Focus Groups typically consist of five to ten individuals who get together to participate in a small group discussion around a decision at a certain stage of the research process (including around the research priorities, question, design, data collection approach, outcome measures, interpretation of findings or dissemination of findings). The group is selected using purposive sampling to choose individuals who have relevance to the particular topic of study. It is common to record the session using audio or video recorders, and then transcribe it into narrative data.
Focus Groups can be useful for:
- Identifying public opinion and encouraging open public debate around certain research decisions (e.g. What should be the research priority? What should be our research question? How should we collect the data? What outcome measures should we be looking at? What does the data mean to you? How should we share the research findings?).
- Providing opportunities for engagement of voices traditionally less heard in health research.
- Providing insightful information for the evaluation of the research project.
- Using previously analyzed data to generate alternate interpretations.
Note: It is a good idea to have a trained facilitator lead the focus group. You will need to use qualitative analysis to interpret the outcomes of the focus group in order to help inform research decisions.