Methodological Reflections on the Use of Asynchronous Online Focus Groups in Health Research

Sarah Williams, Maria Giatsi Clausen, Ann Robertson, Susi Peacock, Kerri McPherson

Abstract


The Internet is increasingly used as a tool in qualitative research. In particular, asynchronous online focus groups are used when factors such as cost, time, or access to participants can make conducting face-to-face research difficult. In this article we consider key methodological issues involved in using asynchronous online focus groups to explore experiences of health and illness. The written nature of Internet communication, the lack of physical presence, and the asynchronous, longitudinal aspects enable participants who might not normally contribute to research studies to reflect on their personal stories before disclosing them to the researcher. Implications for study design, recruitment strategies, and ethics should be considered when deciding whether to use this method.

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