The following steps summarizes the focus group process:

  1. Identify people to participate in the focus group. Keep the group size form 7 to 10. Use additional groups to accommodate more participants and to create the type of group desired (homogeneous, strangers/colleagues, employee/management).
  2. Prepare questions for the Group(s). a. Use open-ended questions to stimulate comments. b. Ask for feeling, perceptions, and experiences. c. List four to seven questions. (Focus group should complete its work in two hours.) d. Start with general questions and move in a logical manner to more specific and/or sensitive ones.
  3. Select a moderator who has experience working with groups, understands the study objectives, and is knowledgeable about the focus-group technique.
  4. Schedule a room that will be conducive to discussion and group interactions. Participants should be seated around a table so they face each other and the moderator.
  5. Make provisions to record with a tape recorder. Also, have an assistant to the moderator who can take written notes on a flip chart.
  6. Pilot-test the process and revise as needed.
  7. Conduct the focus group session. a. Give a general introduction to the purpose and format of the session. b. Moderator and participants should introduce themselves ( Each person should have a name placard.) c. Use the first question or two to establish rapport in the group and set context for questions that follow. d. Have the assistant record comments on the flip chart. If possible, also record on audiotape for later review. Moderator should also make brief notes if possible. Flag ideas that are emphasized, especially those noted by several participants. Link spin-off comments to their original idea with an arrow. e. Probe if more information is desired in an area • A pause encourages responses • Look at other participants to encourage responses • Try to involve everyone and recognize shy members first when they want to comment • Ask participants to clarify or expand on their comments f. Use the last 20 to 30 minutes of the session to summarize.

• ask participants if there are any other relevant questions or comments • ask each participant to write down what they thought was the most important point, present it to the group, and hand it in • summarize the session and thank participants for their input

  1. Debrief with the assistant immediately after the session and record the participants impressions.
  2. Analyze the comments from the participants. a. Review study objectives and determine what to look for in the comments. b. Listen to the tape of the session. A transcript can be made if time and resources are available. • record words or terms related to objectives • try to identify what stimulated/caused these comments to be made • look for reoccurring ideas, thoughts, and themes and record their frequency • identify when comments are supported by other participants • look for major ideas or themes that encompass major portions of the comments c. Review debriefing notes and written notes and contrast these with the results from step b. Check for unique ideas inconsistencies, and common themes. d. If two or more focus group were used, look for common themes and unique ideas.
  3. Report the results. a. Report by objectives. b. Describe the nature of the participants. c. Identify the themes or ideas. d. Clearly identify any interpretations made.

Sample Solution