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  • Video logs, in which individuals are given video cameras or still cameras to record their environment and daily activities

Because the methods for focus groups and in- depth individual interviews are similar, they will be discussed together in this section, using instructions for focus groups as a guide.

Focus Groups

In a focus group, a skilled moderator uses a discussion guide to facilitate a one- to two- hour discussion among five to 10 partici- pants. Typically the session is conducted in person. If that isn’t possible because of distance or other factors, another option is to conduct the session by telephone or com- puter. The moderator keeps the session on track while participants talk freely. As new topics related to the material emerge, the

moderator asks additional questions.

Focus groups are commonly used to accomplish the following purposes:

  • Develop a communication strategy by:

    • Learning about feelings, motiva- tors, and experiences related to a health topic

    • Exploring the feasibility of potential actions from the audience’s viewpoint

    • Identifying barriers to those actions

    • Exploring which benefits the audience finds most compelling and believes can result from taking a particular action

Chapter 3: Gaining and Using Target Audience Insights

    • Learning about the audience’s use of settings, channels, and activities

    • Capturing the language the audience uses to discuss a health issue

    • Identifying cultural differences that may affect message delivery

  • Explore reactions to message concepts (concept testing) by:

    • Identifying concepts that do or don’t resonate and learning why

    • Triggering the creative thinking of communication professionals

    • Showing others what audience members think and how they talk about a health issue

  • Develop hypotheses (broad questions) for quantitative research, and identify the range of responses that should be included in closed-ended questionnaires

  • Provide insights into the results of quantitative research by obtaining in- depth information from audience members

  • Brainstorm for possible program improvements


  • Group interaction can elicit in-depth thought and discussion.

  • Group interaction can encourage brainstorming, because respondents can build on each other’s ideas.

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