How to draft the script of a focus group in healthcare

What I learned from The Vaping Project.

Yanbin Hao
Dec 27, 2019 · 4 min read

When talking about the focus group, do you think it is getting a bunch of people together to talk? What is the focus group and how to best understand the behaviors of users, especially the healthcare field with sensitive topics?

What is a focus group?

The purpose of conducting a focus group is to better
understand how people feel or think about an issue, idea, product, or service. Focus groups are used to gather opinions.

What I learned from the focus group

In the session, the research objective is to gather the experiences and attitudes of undergraduate students with vaping behavior. Focus groups are useful for initial research because they harness the power of group dynamics to spur conversation and discovery about a broad topic. In-depth interviews are useful later on in the process when getting down to the nitty-gritty. Also compared to in-depth interviews, focus groups can emerge more sensitive and personal disclosures about the topics[3]. Thus, we decided to apply the focus group to explore the vaping topic.

With the support of the Design Institute for Health, our group solicited the help of several high school organizations and flyers. It aimed to apply the focus group to better understand the unique needs of vaping and attitudes of vaping for undergraduate students on the UT campus. The focus group was conducted with 4 participants.

Interview Structure

As a researcher, the interview process that the moderator can do like below:

Introduction

Hello. My name is [name]. I’d like to start off by thanking each of you for taking the time to participate today. We’ll be here for about 45minutes.

Purpose

The reason we are here today is to gather your opinions and attitudes related to your experiences with vaping and your opinion.

I’m going to lead our discussion today. I will be asking you questions and then encouraging and moderating our discussion.

Ground rules

To allow our conversation to flow more freely, I’d like to go over some ground rules.

(1) Only one person speaks at a time. This is doubly important as our goal is to make a written transcript of our conversation today. It is difficult to understand what is being said if there are multiple voices at once. Please avoid side conversations.

(2) One of the most important things to keep in mind is that I am not evaluating you, only trying to better understand your experiences and attitude.

(3) Everyone doesn’t have to answer every single question, but I’d like to hear from each of you today as the discussion progresses.

(4) This is a confidential discussion in that I will not report your names or who said what to your colleagues

(5) There are no “wrong answers,” just different opinions. Say what is true for you, even if you’re the only one who feels that way. Please be as candid as possible, both positive and negative. Don’t let the group sway you. But if you do change your mind, let me know.

(6) Are there any questions before we start?

Introduction of participants

Before we start, I’d like to know a little about each of you. Please tell me your name(write a name card in front of them).

Start of the Discussion

Important: Wait at least 15 seconds after asking a question to give participants time to respond. Use the prompts only if no one speaks up or to get the discussion back on track.

(1) Current vaping experience

Sample Prompts:

Can you share your daily vaping experience? (Follow-up questions below)

  • Do you smoke daily?
  • How much do you vape for a day?
  • How often do you vape in a week?
  • Do you have any typical patterns? -When, where, why you vape?
  • How often do you need to buy cartridges? Do you feel a need to vape? Would you consider your vaping to be an addiction?

Do you think of vaping as a part of your social identity? (Follow-up questions below)

  • Can you tell me a little bit about your experience vaping in public?
  • Do others in your life know that you vape? Do they express their opinions?

(2) Health implication of vaping

Sample Prompts (some may be repeated)

Do you believe that vaping (of any sort) has an impact on your health?

Have you experienced any health impacts from vaping?

Are you interested in reducing or eliminating your vape use?

(3) Attitudes towards Vaping Industry: Businesses & Government

Sample Prompts

What is your opinion of the government research and regulation for vaping (of any sort)?

Closing

Thanks for coming today and talking about these topics. Your comments have given us lots of different ways to see this issue. Thank you for your time.

Focus groups VS. In-depth Interviews

Thanks for reading! I’m happy to hear about your thoughts and comments on doing user research for the healthcare field.

If you liked this article make sure to follow me to see the next ones and feel free to connect with me on Linkedin.

Don’t hesitate to clap and it will encourage me for more contributions!

References

  1. Fern, E. F., & Fern, E. E. (2001). Advanced focus group research. Sage.

2. Guest, G., Namey, E., Taylor, J., Eley, N., & McKenna, K. (2017). Comparing focus groups and individual interviews: findings from a randomized study. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20(6), 693–708.

3. Krueger, R. A. (2014). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Sage publications.

4. Pros and cons of focus groups vs. interviews: an in-depth review: https://www.intotheminds.com/blog/en/focus-groups-vs-interviews-pros-and-cons/

Yanbin’s portfolio

MS @UT Austin, UX Researcher Intern at IBM, interested in Technology, Education and AI.

Thanks to Becky Y.C. Chen

Yanbin Hao

Written by

MS @UT Austin, Former UX Researcher Intern at IBM, interested in Technology, Education and AI. Portfolio:https://www.yanbinhao.com/

Yanbin’s portfolio

I am passionate about solving the problems, like an owl hunting in complete darkness. I am also a superwoman to find system bugs with Enterprise Design Thinking and generate solutions.

Yanbin Hao

Written by

MS @UT Austin, Former UX Researcher Intern at IBM, interested in Technology, Education and AI. Portfolio:https://www.yanbinhao.com/

Yanbin’s portfolio

I am passionate about solving the problems, like an owl hunting in complete darkness. I am also a superwoman to find system bugs with Enterprise Design Thinking and generate solutions.

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