Discomfort, discord and discontinuity as data: using focus groups to research sensitive topics

Wellings, K., Branigan, P. and Mitchell, K. (2000) Discomfort, discord and discontinuity as data: using focus groups to research sensitive topics. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 2(3), pp. 255-267. (doi:10.1080/136910500422241)

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Abstract

In the context of research into sensitive topics, focus groups may not at first seem the method of choice. Personal information may most likely be disclosed when assurances of privacy, confidentiality and a non-condemnatory attitude can be provided. The focus group format guarantees none of these. This paper reports on focus groups carried out in the general context of three different research projects with the common challenge of generating discussions around sensitive health topics. Analysis of these studies suggest not only that this investigative approach can elicit responses and opinions about sensitive topics, but that the dynamics of the focus group can provide data which are not generated by other research methods. Careful attention is needed to the strategies adopted by group participants to deal with opinions which are difficult to express. A broader interpretation of what constitutes data is urged.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Dr Kirstin
Authors: Wellings, K., Branigan, P., and Mitchell, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Culture, Health and Sexuality
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:1369-1058
ISSN (Online):1464-5351

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