Combining individual interviews and focus groups to enhance data richness

J Adv Nurs. 2008 Apr;62(2):228-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04559.x.


Aim: This paper is a presentation of the critical reflection on the types of findings obtained from the combination of individual interviews and focus groups, and how such triangulation contributes to knowledge production and synthesis.

Background: Increasingly, qualitative method triangulation is advocated as a strategy to achieve more comprehensive understandings of phenomena. Although ontological and epistemological issues pertaining to triangulation are a topic of debate, more practical discussions are needed on its potential contributions, such as enhanced data richness and depth of inquiry.

Method: Data gathered through individual interviews and focus groups from a study on patterns of cancer information-seeking behaviour are used to exemplify the added-value but also the challenges of relying on methods combination.

Findings: The integration of focus group and individual interview data made three main contributions: a productive iterative process whereby an initial model of the phenomenon guided the exploration of individual accounts and successive individual data further enriched the conceptualisation of the phenomenon; identification of the individual and contextual circumstances surrounding the phenomenon, which added to the interpretation of the structure of the phenomenon; and convergence of the central characteristics of the phenomenon across focus groups and individual interviews, which enhanced trustworthiness of findings.

Conclusion: Although the use of triangulation is promising, more work is needed to identify the added-value or various outcomes pertaining to method combination and data integration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection / methods
  • Data Collection / standards
  • Female
  • Focus Groups*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Nursing Research / standards
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design / standards*