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Steps to Conducting a Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

Here is an overview of the steps for conducting a Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

Step 1: Clarify the purpose for the FGD. What are you trying to learn or gain insight on? For example, you are interested in the experiences of healthcare workers since the COVID-19 pandemic. Or the FGD is being used to probe issues that were raised from a survey of doctors working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Step 2: Draft the key research/evaluation questions. Once the purpose of the FGD is known, you can craft the research/evaluation questions that will be answered. For example, “To what extent have the lives of healthcare workers been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?’

The research/evaluation questions are not to be confused with the questions that will be drafted for the participants of the FGD.

Step 3: Develop the various protocols. This includes the moderator’s guide or the Terms of Reference for the Moderators (which specifies the required skillset, code of behaviour, roles of the moderator and the assistant moderator), the focus group guide (with the questions for the FGD participants and the questioning strategy (e.g. the order in which the questions will be asked) ).

Step 4: Recruit participants. There are several ways persons can be targeted to participate in the FGD, such as nomination, an open call, random selection etc. Group composition (homogeneous or heterogeneous ) should also be considered.

Step 5: Conduct the FGD. This is done using good moderation techniques and recording/documenting of the session.

Step 6: Debrief. Soon after the FGD session ends, the moderator, observers, evaluators/researchers exchange their insights from the focus group session. Record additional information not openly discussed (impressions, conclusions, and so forth) for use in the next step.

Step 7: Analyze the data. The qualitative data generated from the FGD should be analysed to spot emerging themes and trends. There are software that can aid with this.

Step 8: Present the findings. Report findings in a way that is meaningful and useful to key stakeholders. Use oral, written, or video formats, or a combination of any of them.

Wish to learn more about FGDs? Register for my online course on 11-15 October 2021.


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​​​Ann-Murray Brown

Monitoring, Evaluation and
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