Conducting effective focus groups in the context of diversity: theoretical underpinnings and practical implications

Qual Health Res. 1998 Nov;8(6):813-20. doi: 10.1177/104973239800800607.


Demographic trends reveal that the socially and culturally relevant diversity of patients, caregivers, and managers in health care organizations will continue to increase. In addition, social attitudes are moving from a goal of assimilation or homogenization to one of differentiation and maintenance of subgroup identity. These shifts in demographics and social attitudes require the associated development of theory and practice guidelines for focus groups conducted in the context of diversity. Diversity has a profound impact on factors ranging from study design to the selection and training of facilitators and the analysis of results. Racial identity development theory, models of communication style differences, ethnographic studies of cultural archetypes or ethnic markers, and the author's experiences in facilitating focus groups that explore the sensitive topic of race/ethnicity provide insights for researchers and practitioners who want to ensure that focus groups conducted in the context of diversity produce valid results.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Focus Groups / methods*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Leadership