Using organisational learning theory as a means of mobilising knowledge resources in the control of infection
This research investigates learning and infection control knowledge within hospitals in the United Kingdom (UK). Fundamental infection control practices are not always carried out by clinical staff caring for patients, as a result infections are transmitted (Pittet et al 2000). Failure to carry out infection control practices may reflect a division between the espoused and actual practice of clinicians (Huzzard and Ostergren 2002). This division may be contributed to by infection control teams and educationalists relying on classroom based, pedagogic teaching and failing to investigate the value of other learning theories (Courtney 1998). This study is based upon an investigation of the utility of situated learning within clinical infection control practice. The situated learning is based upon a combination of underpinning learning theories including community of practice and knowledge creation theory. The investigation consists of a discussion of the background of infection control in UK hospitals followed by a review of the literature concerning individual and organisational learning theory and learning in clinical practice. This review results in the production of a research model which combines learning theories, providing a guide for subsequent empirical research phases. A mixed methods, pluralist research methodology is produced employing qualitative and quantitative research methods. The first empiric phase of the research reveals evidence of a division between espoused and actual infection control practice, of tacit learning in practice, and of existing knowledge structures and relationships that could be further developed to facilitate and guide situated learning in practice. This evidence is used in conjunction with individual and organisational learning theory in the second empiric phase of the research in which an educational intervention employing situated learning in practice takes place. Results of this intervention study reveal improvements in infection control knowledge and practice amongst research participants indicating that situated learning, when harnessed and guided in clinical practice is able to offer a resilient means of contributing to the creation and application of knowledge within challenging learning environments.