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Reflections on the Use of Synchronous Online Focus Groups in Social Care Research

Keemink, Jolie R., Sharp, Rebecca J., Dargan, Alan, Forder, Julien E. (2022) Reflections on the Use of Synchronous Online Focus Groups in Social Care Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 21 . pp. 1-13. ISSN 1609-4069. (doi:10.1177/16094069221095314) (KAR id:95315)

Abstract

Focus groups are an extensively employed research method for the collection of qualitative data. Recent developments in teleconferencing platforms have produced a substantial increase in online research, including online focus groups. The current study is the first to discuss methodological reflections on the conduct of online focus groups in adult social care research. Previously reported research on the use of online focus groups in healthcare research cannot readily be applied to the significantly distinct social care sector. Unique characteristics of the social care sector, such as the dispersion of social care services, the significant funding gap, ongoing recruitment and retention issues, and an ageing population becoming increasingly reliant on social care have consequences for the design, conduct and appropriateness of the online focus group method. In this article, we review the use of synchronous online focus groups in social care research. We conducted six online focus groups with social care professionals (total N = 37). The online focus group method is evaluated by analysing and reporting data from a participant experience survey and researcher reflection logs. Additionally, this article reviews Microsoft Teams as a platform for online focus groups. It is concluded that the benefits of increased accessibility and representation significantly outweigh the limitations related to online social communication.

We suggest that the use of the online focus groups method could enhance the relatively scarce research capacity in social care, and we provide practical recommendations for the design and conduct of online focus groups in social care research.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/16094069221095314
Uncontrolled keywords: focus groups, virtual environments, mixed methods, methods in qualitative inquiry, qualitative evaluation
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Personal Social Services Research Unit
Funders: National Institute for Health Research (https://ror.org/0187kwz08)
Depositing User: Jolie Keemink
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 12:42 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:27 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/95315 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Keemink, Jolie R.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4153-4530
Dargan, Alan: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8963-3802
Forder, Julien E.: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7793-4328
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