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Focus group

A focus group refers to a ‘one off’, group interview or discussion where the focus is a particular area of interest. The discussion, using questions as prompts, is carefully planned and designed to obtain perceptions and experiences in a permissive, non-threatening environment.

Focus groups will normally involve 8-10 participants.  A number of groups may be held on the same subject area across wider geographical locations.  A standard approach should be establish if more than focus group is to be carried out.

Feedback to participants should always be undertaken.

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  • Interviewing people in a group enables interaction that often promotes further elaboration on individuals’ thoughts, feelings and opinions;
  • Can focus people on the most important issues;
  • Learning experience, enabling participants to be better informed.
  • Confidentiality may be difficult to ensure;
  • Stronger group members can influence others; expert facilitation is crucial;
  • Mixed group of lay and professional people needs careful facilitation;
  • Facilitator may influence discussion merely by their gender, culture, ethnicity or age;
  • Collation and analysis of the data can be very time consuming;
  • Not necessarily a stand-alone method of consultation/engagement – works better as part of a wider process.
  • Qualitative data.
  • Quantitative data.

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