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The focus group manual

This manual is a step-by-step practical guide for the use of focus groups, a research approach that has proved to be extremely useful in a wide variety of settings for providing, rapidly and economically, information on the range of opinions, knowledge, beliefs and practices of a population. It was written to help researchers in the social and health sciences use focus groups to learn more about social and cultural issues influencing health behaviour and the prevention and control of disease. The examples used are taken mainly from the health field, specifically tropical diseases, but the manual is equally useful for other health-related issues. It should be useful for those already trained as well as those with no prior experience with focus group research.

Focus groups are organized interview sessions with specific goals, structures, time-frames, and procedures. Developed first for use in market research to determine people's attitudes and preferences about particular products, they have recently become recognized by the scientific community as a valuable tool for gaining information for a variety of purposes. They yield information useful for designing interventions and for monitoring their success or failure. They can focus questionnaires on topics relevant to the community, eliminate irrelevant issues, and select appropriate terms and language.

The first section, for leaders of research teams, includes information on focus group preparation, management, and data analysis. The second section is for training other members of the focus group team. It guides the trainer through the different aspects and phases of the sessions, including needed skills, language differences, stimulation of discussion, and dealing with unforseen problems. Even those familiar with focus group research will find that it provides new insights and examples that may be adapted to different research questions and teaching contexts.

This book may be ordered from the International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC) by writing to:

P.O. Box 500
Charles Street Station
Boston, MA 02114-0500 USA
$10.00 industrial/$5.00 Developing Countries


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