is a qualitative method of data collection wherein a skilled moderator
facilitates discussion on a selected topic among 6 to 10 respondents,
allowing them to respond spontaneously to the issues raised. Focus groups
held in person usually last for 90 to 120 minutes per session. For focus
group research to be most valuable, the moderator must go over the research
topics, establish an environment in which all points of view are welcome,
and follow up on unexpected but potentially valuable topics that are raised.
groups are conducted in person, participants and the moderator gather,
usually around a table. Observers (members of the strategy team)
sit behind a one-way mirror or unobtrusively back from the table and
take notes. Groups may also be recorded by audio or videotape.
create an atmosphere for synergistic discussion among members of the
target audience. Researchers commonly use them to develop market
or communication strategy, explore reactions to message concepts (concept
testing), develop hypotheses (broad study issues) for quantitative
studies, and identify the range of responses that should be included
questionnaires, provide insights into the results of quantitative studies,
and brainstorm for possible program improvements.
can help develop your market strategy by:
about feelings, motivators, and past experiences related to the
the feasibility of various potential behaviors from the
barriers to those behaviors
what benefits the audience finds most compelling and believes can result
from engaging in a particular
about the audienceís use of settings, channels, and activities for
information, entertainment, and support
the language the audience uses to discuss a health issue
cultural differences that may affect strategy or intervention selection
insights into the results of quantitative studies by obtaining in-depth
information from audience
to help understand why individuals
respond in certain ways.
can help explore reactions to concepts or ideas by:
concepts that do or donít resonate and learning why
strategy teamís creative thinking
the strategy team what audience members think and how they talk about
a health issue.
guidance on how to plan focus groups, see Steps
for Conducting Focus Groups and In-depth Interviews.
See a focus
group handbook developed by CDCís Division of Diabetes Translation
that provides information on conducting focus groups with hard-to-reach
populations. Diabetes Handbook.pdf
See a screening
tool for recruiting participants: IM_Vaccine_Safety_Focus_Groups Qualifying_Questions.pdf
a consent form used for participation in focus groups: IM_consentform.pdf
a moderator's guide for exploratory focus groups on mammography Mammography_mod_guide.pdf.