Focus groups are small group discussions that are led by an experienced researcher, often referred to as a ‘facilitator’ or ‘moderator’. Typically, the moderator has a pre-set list of questions, a ‘discussion guide’, which is used to lead discussion among the group. This is a useful technique for generating data by facilitating a discussion on a specific topic. For example, in health research, focus groups might be utilized to explore patient or provider perceptions on a particular issue. While one-to-one interviews center on the discussion and interactions between the researcher and participant, focus groups center on the discussions and interactions between the participants.
While focus groups allow researchers to collect a large quantity of data in a short period of time; challenges may include managing personalities within the group (extroverted versus introverted) and participants going off topic. Additional considerations include resources (such as an additional researchernote any non-verbal behaviour and group dynamics), time allotted for the discussion and budget (such as compensating participants for their time or travel).
As with interviews, focus groups are typically recorded. The recording can be transcribed, and the results can be analyzed in order to produce themes as well as highlight the language or terminology used by participants.
To further discuss Focus Group methodology or reporting, contact Medlior today!