Understanding the multiple realities of everyday life: basic assumptions in focus-group methodology

Scand J Occup Ther. 2006 Jun;13(2):125-32. doi: 10.1080/11038120600691082.


In recent years, there has been a notable growth in the use of focus groups within occupational therapy. It is important to understand what kind of knowledge focus-group methodology is meant to acquire. The purpose of this article is to create an understanding of the basic assumptions within focus-group methodology from a theory of science perspective in order to elucidate and encourage reflection on the paradigm. This will be done based on a study of contemporary literature. To further the knowledge of basic assumptions the article will focus on the following themes: the focus-group research arena, the foundation and its core components; subjects, the role of the researcher and the participants; activities, the specific tasks and procedures. Focus-group methodology can be regarded as a specific research method within qualitative methodology with its own form of methodological criteria, as well as its own research procedures. Participants construct a framework to make sense of their experiences, and in interaction with others these experiences will be modified, leading to the construction of new knowledge. The role of the group leader is to facilitate a fruitful environment for the meaning to emerge and to ensure that the understanding of the meaning emerges independently of the interpreter. Focus-group methodology thus shares, in the authors' view, some basic assumptions with social constructivism.

MeSH terms

  • Focus Groups*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Qualitative Research*