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close this bookManual for the Use of Focus Groups (Methods for Social Research in Disease) (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1993, 97 pages)
close this folderPart II: Staff training for focus group discussions
View the documentSection 1: Introduction
View the documentSection 2: Introduction to focus groups
View the documentSection 3: Overview of skills training session
View the documentSection 4: Roles of the team
View the documentSection 5: Personal characteristics of the moderator
View the documentSection 6: Preparation for each focus group discussion
View the documentSection 7: Entering the community and activities for the reception of participants
View the documentSection 8: Beginning the focus group discussion
View the documentSection 9: Moderator skills: Asking questions
View the documentSection 10: Encouraging and controlling the discussion
View the documentSection 11: Moderator and observer skills: Observing non-verbal messages
View the documentSection 12: Observer skills: Recording the session
View the documentSection 13: Closing the discussion and meeting
View the documentSection 14: The debrief

Section 13: Closing the discussion and meeting

13.1 Introduction

Closing the discussion and having refreshments together can be as important as the discussion itself. This is for two main reasons. People should feel that their contribution has been worthwhile, and that you are really interested in them as people in the community. The participants should leave the meeting feeling satisfied that the time taken from their daily duties was well invested.

13.2 Closing the focus group discussion

The last five to ten minutes of the discussion should be reserved for any extra questions that appeared necessary during the discussion. The observer may want to ask a question or may want to use this time to check that her or his notes are correct.

After the last question has been asked and adequately covered, and there is a pause in the discussion, advise the participants that the discussion is formally closed. Thank them very much for their valuable contribution and invite them to join you for refreshments and informal conversation.

Some participants may want to leave immediately, and should be made to feel comfortable about this. Assure people that they are welcome to join you for refreshments, but they are free to get back to their duties if necessary.

13.3 Refreshment time

This time should be used to answer questions asked by the participants. It is not really possible to predict what types of questions will be asked, but as you progress with the focus groups you can decide how best to answer any common questions concerning the study. Participants will often want to know whether they have provided the "right" information. Always reassure them that they were extremely helpful. This message should be given in a very sincere fashion, even if the session seemed to be of minimal value! It may turn out to be valuable during analysis later, so you can assure people with confidence.

Another purpose of this time is to listen carefully for any further information that is revealed that was not discussed in the session. Sometimes people may feel more comfortable about discussing things in this very informal time. You cannot write anything down during this time, so try hard to remember anything that seems important.

Some participants may want to stay and continue general conversation with their friends. Usually the focus group team can expect to stay with the participants for about half an hour. You will need to use your own judgement about the most appropriate time to leave.

13.4 Leaving the location

If appropriate and possible, it is a courtesy to find the local leader or health worker before leaving the area to report on the success of the meeting. He or she may also have questions to ask. This should only be a brief courtesy call before setting off.