Focus group

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The focus group method is a well-known method in qualitative research aiming to find meanings and significances people attach to certain phenomena. The hallmark of the focus group method is the interaction of the participants.(1-5) Market researchers developed this method but social scientists and primary health care researchers also use focus groups to explore people’s belief, opinions and attitudes.(4) In fact this method is a kind of a face to face interview but the mostly 6-8 participants are able to talk to one another, to talk and to ask questions, stimulating each other to share experiences and opinions.

An example of the focus group method can be found in a study into the meanings and significances that GPs attach to gut feelings in diagnostic reasoning.(6)

(1) Basch CE. Focus group interview: an underutilized research technique for improving theory and practice in health education. Health Educ Q 1987;14(4):411-48.

(2) Britten N. Qualitative interviews in medical research. BMJ 1995 Jul 22;311(6999):251-3.

(3) Morgan DL. Focus groups. Annual Rev Sociology 1996;22:129-52.

(4) Vermeire E, Van Royen P, Griffiths F, Coenen S, Peremans L, Hendrickx K. The critical appraisal of focus group research articles. Eur J of Gen Pract 2002;8:104-8.

(5) Pope C, Van Royen P, Baker R. Qualitative methods in research on healthcare quality. Qual Saf Health Care 2002 Jun;11(2):148-52.

(6) Stolper CF, Van Bokhoven MA, Houben PHH, Van Royen P, Van de Wiel M, Van der Weijden T, et al. The diagnostic role of gut feelings in general practice. A focus group study of the concept and its determinants. BMC Fam Pract 2009 Feb 18;10(17).