Lessons learned using Web conference technology for online focus group interviews

Qual Health Res. 2015 Jan;25(1):122-33. doi: 10.1177/1049732314549602. Epub 2014 Sep 5.


Researchers use Internet technology for data collection in qualitative studies. In the literature there are published accounts of synchronous (real-time) and more commonly, asynchronous (not-real-time) focus group data collection methods supported by Internet technology in the form of email correspondence, LISTSERVs, discussion boards, and chat rooms. Real-time audiovisual Web conference technology offers qualitative researchers a promising alternative means to carry out focus groups. In this methodological article I describe how I used Web conference technology to host online focus groups for a qualitative study about job integration experiences of travel nurses geographically dispersed across the United States. I describe lessons learned from the use of this innovative method for qualitative data collection, including a brief overview about the use of dictation software for transcription. This new knowledge is useful to researchers considering Web conference technology to carry out focus group data collection in qualitative research.

Keywords: data collection and management; focus groups; group interaction; interviews, electronic; research, online; technology, use in research.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Focus Groups / methods*
  • Focus Groups / standards
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Videoconferencing / organization & administration*
  • Videoconferencing / standards