Using focus groups in naturally occurring settings

Sally Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the experiences of conducting focus groups amongst acquaintances in naturally occurring settings, where participants were known to each other and participation was less about being recruited, and more about being there when the focus group took place. Design/methodology/approach – This was a qualitative study of multi-generational experiences of teenage parenting, and used interviews and focus groups. The study took an ethnographic approach, using case studies with a small number (4) of families, plus supplementary interviews, and focus groups with teenage parents and parents-to-be. Findings – Using focus groups in naturally occurring settings alongside other qualitative data collection affords insights into the research topic that would not otherwise be available. Originality/value – The paper discusses the challenges and benefits of using naturally occurring groups, and reflects on the way the findings from these groups illuminated aspects of the study concerning relationships. It argues that naturally occurring groups have advantages over conventionally organised focus groups that contribute to a deeper understanding of relationships between members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2015


  • families
  • focus groups
  • qualitative
  • relationships
  • teenage parenting


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