Kruegar & Casey Focus Groups

Focus Groups

Krueger & Casey, 2000


  1. Characteristics

Participants have something in common that is important to the researcher – driven by the purpose

Interaction enhances interview

Typically 5 to 10 participants but may range from 4-12 (exceeding 12 can cause group to fragment; smaller groups provide less diversity of perceptions) – may want to use mini-focus groups (4-6) for complex topics

Typically composed of people who do not know each other

Moderator characteristics are important – neutral moderator supports more candid sharing

Provides qualitative data

Predetermined questions

Two hour maximum duration

Primary or secondary research tool


  1. Uses

Determine perceptions of people about something, try to understand differences in perceptions, determine the factors influencing perceptions or behaviors, pilot test something, obtain info to design a study, information to explain quantitative data, want to capture comments or language of the group



Decision-making using findings from various groups before, during or after an even or program

Product or program development – before development, pilot tests, test of a final design, evaluation

Customer satisfaction

Planning and Goal Setting

Needs Assessment

Quality assessment

Understanding concerns

Policy making and testing


  1. Planning the focus group study
  1. identify participants/target groups
  2. determine number of different types of groups (who do you want to compare?)
  3. determine number of groups per type of participant (rule of thumb is 3-4 but saturation is the measure and may be affected by the number available) – analyze across groups
  4. avoid power differentials within groups
  5. consider resources/time


  1. Design options

Single category design (one target group)

Multiple category design (multiple target groups)

Double layer design (multiple target groups nested in different contexts – i.e., Layer 1 = school level and Layer 2 = teachers and students)

Broad-involvement design (multiple groups for target audience and fewer groups of ‘other’ audiences)


  1. Written plan


Background info

Type of info needed

Target audiences

Plan of action



Budget/resource allocation

Focus group protocol with estimate of time per question


  1. Questions

Open-ended, general to specific, positive before negative, uncued before cued

Obtain feedback or pilot the questions


“Talking Questions”




Key Questions (2-5)

Ending Questions


“Doing Questions”



Choose among alternatives

Picture sort

Draw a picture

Guided imagery/imagination exercises

Do something prior to interview


Summarize for group


  1. Identification Strategies

Existing lists

Piggyback focus groups

On location

Nominations/Snowball process

Market research services/telephone screening



  1. Selection and Recruitment Strategies

Selection strategies:

Exact specs

Maintain control

Use resources of organization

Avoid bias

Random selection within identified participant groups


Recruitment strategies:

Value of the study

Personalized invitations/personal contact

Make meeting dates, times, places convenient