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Community-Based Focus Group Development: Identifying Strategies to Address Critical Issues Underlying Racially Disparate Breastfeeding Outcomes

By: & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study details one aspect of a qualitative research program developed as part of a 2-year postdoctoral translational research program designed to inform readers of socially contextualized issues associated with disparate breastfeeding outcomes. The case sheds light on unique challenges in using focus group study design particularly in the context of a community environment and with a population whose unique socio-historical experiences oftentimes negatively affect the ability to engage them successfully in research protocols. The research goal was to identify potential strategies for an intervention that support breastfeeding behavior in African American women and infants. Focus groups are considered an effective approach to achieve these goals for its power to help design interventions that address social and health needs of African American women and children. African American women experience the lowest rates of breastfeeding compared with other groups and yet represent little of the current perspective or “voice” that espouses breastfeeding recommendations for engaging them. Earlier work applies a social ecological framework to characterize African American mothers’ breastfeeding challenges as a result of intersections between macro-level factors (media, public policy, and legislation) and micro-level factors (community, neighborhood, and workplace). This work often fails, however, to engage with African American women about their contextualized life challenges and to shed light on what these women think about designing culturally appropriate research and intervention programs that enhance breastfeeding among African American women.

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