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Children, data collection, developmental focus groups, methodology, pediatric qualitative approaches



  1. Kennedy, Christine
  2. Kools, Susan
  3. Krueger, Richard


Focus groups are a well-known qualitative approach to gathering data in health science research. The literature on focus groups, however, primarily discusses adults as subjects. Unfortunately, the scant reports of studies using children as participants in focus groups have not described their methods in detail. This article discusses the use of children (age 6-12) in focus groups, and highlights methodological considerations in this approach, with particular attention to the integration of developmental principles. Focus groups with children can capture their perspectives, original ideas, and insights, which are often neglected in more traditional pediatric research. Focus groups can also serve as an innovative approach to understanding children's experiences from a developmental perspective. Further, focus groups free children and investigator from the data-gathering limitations placed by literacy/reading levels that plague quantitative methods using self-report. By using relatively homogeneous groups, common cultural, emotional, and cognitive processes and responses are revealed that normally would not come to light in structured data collection. Focus groups offer a rich, interactive and developmentally effective approach to planning, content and evaluation in research with children.