Methodological reflections on the use of online focus groups for health research

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

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-383
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • methodology
  • online focus group
  • health research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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