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Barbour, RS. Making sense of focus groups. Med Edu 2005 (available electronically). Reviewed by Sherilyn Smith, University of Washington


Barbour, RS. Making sense of focus groups. Med Edu 2005 (available electronically).

Reviewed by Sherilyn Smith, University of Washington

This article is a good introduction on how to use focus groups in medical education. It is easy to read and hits the most important points to consider if you will be using focus groups. The author highlights potential uses of focus groups in medical education such as use in the initial phase of a survey design, curriculum review or exploring topics that are not easily quantifiable (e.g. professionalism). She then discusses how to choose participants for focus groups, how you can compare between focus groups and touches on some practical issues. The final section briefly mentions analysis of her findings, but mainly sights general quantitative methods with out exploring "pitfalls" in analysis of materials from focus groups. It is a must read for someone with no experience because it will cause you to pause before you launch into a project that was not completely well thought out (always a good thing). If you have already successfully conducted focus groups, you probably won't learn too much from this article. It is well referenced and is useful for background reading about methods.

(Do you use focus group data to look at your clerkship? Have you participated in a focus group on anything - politics, movie review, etc.?- Robin Deterding)

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