Focus Groups are one-time, highly facilitated small group discussions that typically consist of five to ten individuals who are representative of the population that experiential knowledge is sought. Individuals in the group focus on one research decision (whether it be research priorities, questions, design, data collection approaches, outcomes measures, interpreting or dissemination of research findings). 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.