Focus groups

Kingsley Purdam, CCSR.

Focus groups are a widely used qualitative research tool for examining specific research issues with particular groups or populations such as young people or a service user group. Focus groups are also used for the exploratory testing and development of research tools such as, for example, the scoping of questions for inclusion in a survey. Commercially focus groups are commonly used for testing products and for gathering consumer feedback. The key element of a focus group is the exploration of participants’ views and their experiences and their interactions with other group participants.

There are different ways of convening and running focus groups in relation to the specific subject under discussion and the population participating in the group. There is a considerable literature on the method and wider ranging debates about their use and their strengths and weaknesses including the role of the moderator, the analysis of data and the issue of generalization and participant confidentiality.

On behalf of local authorities and government departments Dr. K. Purdam has led focus groups with different populations in order to consider a wide range of research questions including: community planning, drug service provision, homelessness, youth services and community governance.

Background reading

  • Bloor, M. et al. (2001) Focus Groups in Social Research: London: Sage.
  • Kitzinger J. (1995) ‘Introducing focus groups’, British Medical Journal 311: 299-302.
  • Krueger, R.A. and Casey, M.A. (2008) Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. London: Sage.
  • Morgan D.L. (1997, 2nd Edition) Focus groups as qualitative research. London: Sage.
  • Cronin, A. (2008) Focus Groups. In Gilbert, N. Researching Social Life. London: Sage


PDF slides

Download PDF slides of the presentation 'Conducting focus groups - A Brief Overview'