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Technical Assistance - Focus Groups

A focus group is a small group of individuals, selected to participate in a discussion in which specific questions have been developed. The focus group is a form of planning; however, it is more a technique to gain input, insight, and perceptions from a distinct group of consumers than it is a consensus building technique. Like a community assessment instrument, focus groups gather information and can be part of a proactive process. However, they can be used in a retroactive manner too, to gain more specific consumer impressions regarding issues that emerge from a community assessment. In this way, a focus group can add depth and clarity not present in a survey.

Benefits to the Hospital
Focus groups can be used to build community involvement. They can be used to isolate and target distinct community groups for greater probing and opinion clarification such as groups based on age (elderly, middle age, young adults), family status (adults with/without children of school age, adult children with elderly parents), employment (farmers/ranchers, local business owners, employees of small/large businesses, educators), geography (town with the hospital and towns in the service area of that hospital), services (users of current services or potential users of new services), or issues that emerge from the community survey. Focus groups can be an effective tool in an overall planning process.

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