Perspectives on reporting non-verbal interactions from the contemporary research focus group
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Perspectives on reporting non-verbal interactions from the contemporary research focus group

Iseult Wilson Senior lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nicola Daniels Lecturer, University of Derby, Derby, England
Patricia Gillen Lecturer, Ulster University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Karen Casson Lecturer, University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To gain insight into the different types of focus groups and group interviews available as a result of technological advances

  • To consider which terms to use when referring to interviews with three or more people

  • To encourage the analysis of interactions between participants in qualitative research

Background The main defining attribute that delineates focus groups from other methods of collecting data is that data are generated through participants communicating with each other rather than solely with the group moderator. The way in which interactions take place across group interviews and focus groups varies, yet both are referred to as focus groups, resulting in a broad umbrella term for its numerous manifestations.

Aim To reflect on how focus groups are adopted and reported, including the use of the term ‘focus group’.

Discussion The authors recognise that the term ‘focus group’ is sometimes used synonymously with ‘group interview’ but argue that this practice must be challenged. They suggest using terms that indicate the type of space and synchronicity of the focus group, prefixed with ‘in-person’ or ‘conventional’ to identify traditional focus groups. They also suggest separating virtual group interviews into ‘synchronous’ and ‘asynchronous’, based on whether the participants and researchers can engage with each other in real time.

Conclusion There is a need for qualitative researchers to reach a consensus about the nature of focus groups and group interviews, as well as where their differences and similarities lie.

Implications for practice The authors hope to encourage nurse researchers to think about these issues when labelling, planning, analysing and reporting studies involving focus groups.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2022.e1828

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Wilson I, Daniels N, Gillen P et al (2021) Perspectives on reporting non-verbal interactions from the contemporary research focus group. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2022.e1828

Published online: 07 April 2022

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