Lessons Learned: Using Focus Groups for Online Intervention Refinement

In Phase II, our research team conducted five focus groups with a diverse group of participants (n=38) including parents, health care providers, researchers, and students to gather opinions on RIPPLE v1.0.

As I had no previous experience with moderating focus groups, I read a series of books (e.g., Barbour, 2008) and papers (e.g., Kidd & Parshall, 2000) to familiarize myself with the process. Despite my efforts, I still struggled as a moderator.

LessonsAs I hashed out my ‘lessons learned’ regarding the use of focus groups for online intervention refinement with Geoff, I realized others may benefit from my experience. Along with my co-authors, I devised a ‘lessons learned’ paper regarding the topic, which we recently submitted to the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Here are a couple lessons we learned:

(1) The online program refinement process may likely benefit from a variety of perspectives and if a diverse group of participants are recruited, tailoring of the discussion and probing questions is advisable;

(2) Special consideration for capturing of data is required so that context of the discussion remains clear and accurate (e.g., “I like the text on this webpage!” may be unclear a week after the focus group). We used a court reporter, which was extremely successful; transcription was highly accurate, turnaround was quick (enabling concurrent data collection and analysis!), and as the moderator I could focus my full attention on facilitating the group discussion.

Stay tuned for a decision on the manuscript!


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