F for Focus Groups


A focus group of women

A Focus group is a discussion amongst a small group of (6-12 participants) with a specific topic or objective in order to understand the opinions and preferences of people towards the defined topic. It is a cost effective tool for community inclusive and participatory approaches to planning and development. The concept of a Focus Group is to give people a comfortable zone to express their inputs and to observe the discussion from a neutral standpoint and evaluate the essential concerns, thoughts and considerations of the participants. As it is a small and close group it is possible understand underlying attitudes towards the topic by observing non-verbal expressions.


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The Focus Group provides a venue for community discussions about the subject in consideration and is best used to get a sense of differing opinions amongst community members differing in age, gender, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The main advantage is that it provides a natural environment for informal interaction and enables participants to be frank and relaxed. Additionally, the discussion in the form of a peer group provides a stress free atmosphere. This form of participation is especially useful when there are complex and contradictory needs and opinions involved on the behalf of the stakeholders.

• Have a clear focus of study and objective
• A moderator who can listen and lead the discussion in an unbiased manner and one who can make the participants comfortable and can relate to the group must be appointed. A note taker who documents the process must be present.
• Insightful questions and questions to probe deeper must be prepared.
• The group must be homogeneous and based on gender, age, ethnic background etc.
• The chosen location must be one that provides a sense of security and privacy for the participants.

Watch video to get an understanding of how to create a focus group.

Further Reading
Focus Groups as Qualitative research; David L Morgan

Participatory methods Toolkit: Focus Group


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