CIN Plus: The Use of Online Synchronous Focus Groups in a Sample of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Students
Caitlin M. Stover PhD, RN
Linda Q. Thede PhD, RN-BC

CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing
August 2012 
Volume 30  Number 8
Pages 395 - 399
  PDF Version Available!

This study used computer-mediated communication (CMC), in the form of real-time synchronous online focus groups supported by Crusader Services InterQue software (Crusader Services, Los Angeles, CA). Synchronous online focus groups mimic the group interaction of face-to-face (FtF) focus groups, without the worry of having to sit in a room visually exposed to other participants. Online focus groups increase the ability to maintain a participant's anonymity, which has demonstrated easier disclosure of personal and sensitive information.1 In another example, young people (aged 11-18 years) with chronic skin conditions were finally able to participate in research because CMC provided them protection from being seen by other focus group members.2This article discusses the use of online synchronous focus groups during a dissertation research study. The study used a community-based participatory research approach to explore the healthcare experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) college students (aged 18-24 years) in the local community. The research team included the principal investigator (PI) and two key informants (one self-identified gay male and one self-identified bisexual female).Approximately 93% of young adults (aged 18-29 years) use the Internet.3 Additionally, LGB individuals are common users of Internet chat rooms, discussion boards, and e-mail discussion lists.4 Finally, in this specific research sample of college students, most campuses in the local community required enrolled students to purchase a personal laptop as part of admission requirements. Therefore, access to the Internet, computer skills, and familiarity with posting in a chat room were likely to be common practices among the research participants. Thus, the research team determined that the use of CMC was a feasible method for collection of data.Computer-mediated communication is the act by which two or more individuals use computers to exchange text-based communication. This includes the

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