Focus groups: principles and process
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Focus groups: principles and process

Richard A Redmond , Visiting academic at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Elizabeth A Curtis Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Richard Redmond and Elizabeth Curtis describe the process of conducting focus groups. It is specifically aimed at students undertaking research methods modules and those planning to use focus groups as a means of collecting data. It begins with a discussion of the uses of focus groups before moving on to discuss some of the many activities associated with the planning, organising and conducting of focus groups

Focus groups have been used by researchers in the social and behavioural sciences for more than 80 years. In particular, they have been used in fields as disparate as psychology, sociology, programme evaluation, marketing and health sciences. Focus group research, with its underlying theoretical assumptions, is accepted as a legitimate qualitative methodology. Focus groups have been used either on their own as the primary source of data collection or in association with other methodologies. The essence of the focus group is that it is a form of group interview where the aim is to understand the social dynamic and interaction between the participants through the collection of verbal and observational data. In this sense, Krueger and Casey (2000) see the focus group as different from all other types of research because data is generated and collected through the group setting. Because of their extensive use by researchers from different fields as well as those engaged in programme evaluation, the methodology has undergone refinement over the past few decades. In this paper, we will discuss the principles and the processes involved with focus groups as these are two of the fundamental considerations for anyone planning to undertake focus group research.

Nurse Researcher. 16, 3, 57-69. doi: 10.7748/nr2009.04.16.3.57.c6946

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