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Working With Community Organizations (Partners) To Conduct Focus Groups (cont.)

An alternative is to recruit your partner’s members/constituents to come to a special meeting. This approach offers the ability to screen participants. In addition, participants may be less distracted in a

meeting solely devoted to your research than in a focus group conducted as part of a regular meeting.

Scheduling the focus group immediately before or after the regular meeting may make it more conven- ient for participants. A person with the organization—or you, on behalf of the organization—can ask

members/constituents to participate. Also, if you’re providing refreshments or incentives, let participants

know in advance to encourage them to attend and to stay through the entire meeting.

If you do the recruiting, you’ll have more control over what people are told about the focus group and

you’ll be able to screen potential participants. However, recruiting takes a significant amount of time,

and organization members/constituents may be more likely to participate if they are asked by someone they know.

If the member organization recruits participants, you need to provide the recruiter with detailed instruc-

tions. These instructions must include (1) a written description of the general (not specific) topic, which should be read to potential participants verbatim, and (2) a questionnaire to screen participants.

there are no right or wrong answers, that it’s important to speak one at a time and maintain confidentialit , that observers will be present, and that the session will be recorded).3 In focus groups, participants introduce themselves to the group, noting information relevant to the discussion (e.g., number of attempts to quit smoking and number of cigarettes smoked each day). Next, the moderator asks a few simple “icebreaker” questions to help participants get used to the process and reduce their anxiety. This step also helps the moderator develop a rapport with the participants. Again, to reduce the risk of introducing bias, the sponsor of the research should not be revealed.

The session then shifts to an in-depth investi- gation of participants’ perspectives and issues. Following the moderator’s guide, the moder- ator manages the session and ensures that all topics are covered without overtly directing the discussion. Participants are encouraged to express their views and even disagree with one another. The moderator doesn’t simply accept what participants say but probes to learn about thoughts and attitudes. The moderator also seeks opinions from all participants, so

everyone has a chance to speak, rather than letting a vocal few dominate the discussion.

3 If the group is conducted in a language that observers don’t understand, provide a translator in the observation room.

Chapter 3: Gaining and Using Target Audience Insights

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