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Very, very OT - but you guys are SO smart - Focus Group Research

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Very, very OT - but you guys are SO smart - Focus Group Research

Old 08-21-11, 05:09 PM
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Very, very OT - but you guys are SO smart - Focus Group Research

Anyone knowledgeable about the murky area of focus group research? Best practices?

Recently, focus groups were conducted in CO in relation to services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

They chose the focus group participants based on the following:

1) Representative of the designated region;
2) Willing to share their experiences and perceptions;
3) Who are open and fair minded; and
4) Unlikely to polarize others (sic) participants.

Well, this pretty much excludes folks like me and the group I moderate, who are all very knowledgeable about services and bureaucracies and the like, and have a history of asking hard questions and perhaps "polarizing" a group - or not.

So, a couple of concerns:

1. I know that one can write results where there is a codicil about who the group represents, but I also know that those codicils never turn up in quotations from the report, summaries and abstracts. Therefore, a built-in bias is already present in the current results, IMHO.

2. How in the world does someone organizing a focus group know in advance that someone will or will not be "polarizing" or for that matter "open and fair minded?"

3. Is it appropriate or a "Best Practice" to select out certain folks (and related groups) from participation based on criteria such as these?

So, I am interested in some sort of "authority" on "Best practices" in focus group research.

While I have done focus groups (also all over the state) many, many years ago, the purpose of what I did was far different than the above, which has as its hidden nexus the need to influence legislators in certain ways regarding a huge issue of conflict of interest (service provision and case management by these same organizations- who don't want to lose the income and prestige if they were separated) by the regional agencies and service providers who planned the above focus group effort. So, I don't have a background and knowledge about best practices.

Here is the report in question

https://www.ourwebs.info/alliancefocu...port072011.pdf

A google search reveals little substantively on the issue of best practices for focus group research.

Help!!

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Old 08-21-11, 07:42 PM
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This past year I did a series of focus groups around the issue of the kind of training service coordinators (disability related programs) and care mangers (aging related programs)> I welcome people who others see as polarizing. While it means I may have to work harder, it's what I get paid to do, and you often hear people who are willing to tell the emperor that he's not wearing clothes. Sounds like your concerns about the data are worth consideration. In terms of identifying someone who is polarizing, It's not all that hard. People have reputations of which their awareness of may be less than those in the position of guiding someone putting together a focus group.
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Old 08-21-11, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by NOS88
This past year I did a series of focus groups around the issue of the kind of training service coordinators (disability related programs) and care mangers (aging related programs)> I welcome people who others see as polarizing. While it means I may have to work harder, it's what I get paid to do, and you often hear people who are willing to tell the emperor that he's not wearing clothes. Sounds like your concerns about the data are worth consideration. In terms of identifying someone who is polarizing, It's not all that hard. People have reputations of which their awareness of may be less than those in the position of guiding someone putting together a focus group.
Thanks.

What I need is an "authority" to either review the study and comment on it, or a reference book/manual/guide that gives guidelines re: the above.

This report has already been sent to each legislator in the state. We may consider sending out info to legislators questioning the conclusions of the survey based upon the potential sampling error.
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Old 08-21-11, 08:10 PM
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One of the things I did in my career was to study situations and present solutions. I did this over a wide variety of subjects, industries and profit/non-profit groups. One of the things I learned was that focus groups were almost always used as an advocacy vehicle for a particular viewpoint. Seldom were they useful in arbitrating or resolving issues unless those forming the focus group had almost enough power to get their way and needed just a little more to close the deal.

A method to combat them was to examine the people who were part of the group. So, my two cents would be to ask for a listing of focus group members and credentials. If they are uninformed; have social or business ties to a particular group; are so bland as to esentially have no opinion other than that they were fed; or, best case for you, they have overt ties to the convenor you can discredit not only the report but the convening authority as well. That is little loss if they are trying to sink you in the first place.

My favorite method of getting a useful result in many cases was to use the Delphi Method. It is nearly universally applicable and almost always results in useful information.

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Old 08-21-11, 08:17 PM
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A method to combat them was to examine the people who were part of the group. So, my two cents would be to ask for a listing of focus group members and credentials. If they are uninformed; have social or business ties to a particular group; are so bland as to esentially have no opinion other than that they were fed; or, best case for you, they have overt ties to the convenor you can discredit not only the report but the convening authority as well.
Thanks for the idea. I will give it a try, but Ii REALLY doubt that it will be available, as my guess is that focus groups attendees were promised anonymity.

This will likely NOT fall under the Colorado Open Records Act as the convening group iss not a state agency.

I do, however, know of 2 folks who were involved (they just emailed me), and, surprisingly, they are both participants in the advocacy group which I moderate. I don't know if we have a problem or not. More info and research required.
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