FOCUS GROUPS VS. INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEWS
Sensitivity of subject
Depth of individual
Extent of issues to
with interview guide
Cost and training
Use focus groups when...
Use in-depth interview when...
Interaction of respondents may
stimulate a richer response or new and
Group/peer pressure will be valuable in
challenging the thinking of respondents
and illuminating conflicting opinions.
Subject matter is not so sensitive that
respondents will temper responses or
The topic is such that most respondents
can say all that is relevant or all that
they know in less than 10 minutes.
Group interaction is likely to be limited
It is desirable to have one individual
conduct the data collection; a few
groups will not create fatigue or
boredom for one person.
The volume of issues to cover is not
A single subject area is being examined
in depth and strings of behaviours are
Enough is known to establish a
meaningful topic guide.
It is desirable for stakeholders to hear
what participants have to say.
An acceptable number of target
respondents can be assembled in one
Quick turnaround is critical and funds
Focus group facilitators need to be able
to control and manage groups.
Group/peer pressure would inhibit
responses and cloud the meaning of
Subject matter is so sensitive that
respondents would be unwilling to talk
openly in a group.
The topic is such that a greater depth of
response per individual is desirable, as
with complex subject matter and very
It is possible to use numerous
individuals on the project; one
interviewer would become fatigued or
bored conducting all interviews.
A greater volume of issues must be
It is necessary to understand how
attitudes and behaviours link together
on an individual basis.
It may be necessary to develop the
interview guide by altering it after each
of the initial interviews.
Stakeholders do not need to hear
firsthand the opinions of participants.
Respondents are dispersed or not
easily assembled for other reasons.
Quick turnaround is not critical and
budget will permit higher cost.
Interviewers need to be supportive and
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