Focus group discussions are a key method in qualitative research. They were first used in the 1920s and continue to be used in a wide number of fields including market research and to inform political party policy. There are a number of advantages of focus group discussions, but also some drawbacks. This session explores when focus group discussions can be best used.

One of the key concerns when researchers are thinking about including focus group discussions in a study is ethical implications. Unlike a qualitative interview, the researchers cannot guarantee confidentiality of participants.


In the session there is also practical discussion of how to conduct a focus group discussion (key roles etc) and how to develop a topic guide to help guide the discussion. There are also some tips on how to deal with challenging participants.


The session is structured to meet the following learning objectives:

• discuss the rationale for using focus group discussions in qualitative research
• identify the various steps in the planning and implementation of the focus group discussion
• use guidelines to review focus group discussions

You can download the powerpoint here.


Recommended reading:

Kielmann, K, Cataldo, F, and Seeley, J, (2011) Introduction to Qualitative Research Methodology: Chapter 5: Group Interviews

Kitzinger,J. (1995)'1ntroducingFocus Groups' BMJ311:299-j30