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Using focus groups in naturally occurring settings

Brown, Sally


Sally Brown


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the experiences of conducting focus groups amongst acquaintances in naturally occurring settings, where participants were known to each other and participation was less about being recruited, and more about being there when the focus group took place.
Design/methodology/approach – This was a qualitative study of multi-generational experiences of teenage parenting, and used interviews and focus groups. The study took an ethnographic approach, using case studies with a small number (4) of families, plus supplementary interviews, and focus groups with teenage parents and parents-to-be.
Findings – Using focus groups in naturally occurring settings alongside other qualitative data
collection affords insights into the research topic that would not otherwise be available.
Originality/value – The paper discusses the challenges and benefits of using naturally occurring
groups, and reflects on the way the findings from these groups illuminated aspects of the study
concerning relationships. It argues that naturally occurring groups have advantages over conventionally
organised focus groups that contribute to a deeper understanding of relationships between members.


Brown, S. (2013). Using focus groups in naturally occurring settings. Qualitative Research Journal, 15, 86-97.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2014
Publication Date Nov 18, 2013
Deposit Date Apr 7, 2016
Print ISSN 1443-9883
Electronic ISSN 1448-0980
Publisher RMIT Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Pages 86-97
Keywords Relationships; focus groups; qualitative; families; teenage parenting;
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