Focus groups: issues of analysis and interpretation

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Abstract

Focus groups have become a popular method in nursing research. Their history can be traced back to marketing research methods, but they have also been used in qualitative, ethnographic research. Our study, which used this approach as part of data collection, raised many issues of analysis and interpretation: in particular, the importance of paying attention to the sequence of focus group discussions, the individuals involved, and the social context of the focus group. We conclude that focus groups are not a ‘quick and easy’ method of collecting data, and that issues of validity and the relationship between focus group data and other data require careful consideration.

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