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.
- 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.
Level of Involvement: Engaging