Focus groups and qualitative research

Steve Simon


A student is giving a talk on focus groups and asked me a few questions about my attitude towards them. I think focus groups are great. They give you a richer picture of the data and can often supplement quantitative studies.

Here are a couple of good books on the topic:

Focus Groups Second Edition: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. Krueger RA (1994) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Analyzing & Reporting Focus Group Results. Krueger RA (1998) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Here’s a nice web resource about focus groups:

Research Perspective on Focus Groups. Resources TRoPE. Accessed on 2004-04-13.

Focus groups fit into the broader category of research known as qualitative research. Here are some nice reports on the web about qualitative research:

User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations. Frechtling J, Sharp L. Accessed on 2004-04-13.

Some Forms of Qualitative Research: Their Advantages and Disadvantages for CAM Research. Parliament HoLUK. Accessed on 2004-04-13.

There are a pair of articles on how to critically evaluate qualitative research:

Users' guides to the medical literature XXIII. Qualitative research in health care A. Are the Results of the Study Valid? Giacomini M, Cook D. JAMA 2000: 284(3); 357-362. [Medline]

Users' guides to the medical literature XXIII. Qualitative research in health care B. What are the results and how do they help me care for my patients? Giacomini M, Cook D. JAMA 2000: 284(4); 478-482. [Medline]

The British Medical Journal has a couple of interesting overviews of qualitative research

Ethnography and health care. Savage J. Bmj 2000: 321(7273); 1400-2. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Anthropology in health research: from qualitative methods to multidisciplinarity. Lambert H, McKevitt C. BMJ 2002: 325(7357); 210-213. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

a lot of nice examples of qualitative research,

Qualitative study of patients' perceptions of doctors' advice to quit smoking: implications for opportunistic health promotion. Butler CC, Pill R, Stott NC. British Medical Journal 1998: 316(7148); 1878-81. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Understanding the culture of prescribing: qualitative study of general practitioners' and patients' perceptions of antibiotics for sore throats. Butler CC, Rollnick S, Pill R, Maggs-Rapport F, Stott N. British Medical Journal 1998: 317(7159); 637-42. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Why men with prostate cancer want wider access to prostate specific antigen testing: qualitative study. Chapple A, Ziebland S, Shepperd S, Miller R, Herxheimer A, McPherson A. Bmj 2002: 325(7367); 737. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Towards a feasible model for shared decision making: focus group study with general practice registrars. Elwyn G, Edwards A, Gwyn R, Grol R. British Medical Journal 1999: 319(7212); 753-756. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Recognising meningococcal disease in primary care: qualitative study of how general practitioners process clinical and contextual information. Granier S, Owen P, Pill R, Jacobson L. British Medical Journal 1998: 316(7127); 276-9. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative study of decisions about infant feeding among women in east end of London. Hoddinott P, Pill R. British Medical Journal 1999: 318(7175); 30-4. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Implementing evidence-based medicine in general practice: audit and qualitative study of antithrombotic treatment for atrial fibrillation. Howitt A, Armstrong D. British Medical Journal 1999: 318(7194); 1324-1327. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

Use of consensus development to establish national research priorities in critical care. Vella K, Goldfrad C, Rowan K, Bion J, Black N. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7240); 976-980. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

as well as some guides for critical evaluation.

Qualitative research in systematic reviews has established a place for itself. Dixon-Woods M, Fitzpatrick R. British Medical Journal 2001: 323(7316); 765-6. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research and evidence-based medicine. Green J, Britten N. British Medical Journal 1998: 316(7139); 1230-2. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research in health care: Assessing quality in qualitative research. Mays N, Pope C. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7226); 50-52. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research in health care: Analysing qualitative data. Pope C, Ziebland S, Mays N. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7227); 114-116. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research in health care: Using qualitative methods in health related action research. Meyer J. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7228); 178-181. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

You can find an earlier version of this page on my original website.