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Keywords:

  • focus groups;
  • women;
  • serious and enduring mental health problems;
  • research;
  • methodological dilemmas;
  • user views

The practical, methodological and ethical dilemmas of conducting focus groups with vulnerable clients

Aim. This paper presents some of the practical, methodological and ethical dilemmas that were encountered in a study that used focus groups to elicit the views of women with serious and enduring mental health problems about the services they were receiving.

Findings. The dilemmas identified included the time and effort taken to gain access to the women, the role of the researcher as facilitator, communication and interaction in the focus group, accepting the women’s reality, and the thin divide between research and therapy.

Conclusion. The paper concludes with some recommendations for researchers who are planning to use focus groups to elicit the views of vulnerable clients.