Focus Groups

Focus Groups

  • A small group of people (usually no more than 10) is brought together to engage in a directed discussion about a specific topic. The purpose of a focus group is to collect information and to use the interaction of the group to “multiply” the information of individual group members.
  • Form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards an issue, concept or idea.


  • Useful in obtaining detailed, in-depth information
  • Open-ended questions give the participants freedom to express a variety of opinions and ideas
  • The process allows further probing of answers
  • Sessions can generate a lot of information in a short time

How to

  • One interviewer with a small group
  • Use a small set of questions (5-8 questions)
  • Should last about 45 to 60 minutes
  • Conversational and loosely structured
  • Go to the location of the focus group (especially for low-income populations)
  • Best to meet with an existing group or meeting of target population
  • Interviewer is flexible and able to add questions as they go
  • Setting up the focus group takes time but can build from key informant interviews
  • Questions are open-ended such as –
          What do you think about...
          What is your experience with...
          Can you tell me about...
          What are some examples of...