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The Experience of Conducting Focus Group Discussions on the Topic of Gestational Diabetes in Cape Town, South Africa

By: , , & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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The focus groups, which form the basis of this case study, were undertaken as part of the formative phase of a larger study, aimed at developing and evaluating a novel health system intervention to reduce the subsequent risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women with recent gestational diabetes mellitus. The aim of our focus groups was to investigate women’s experiences of having had gestational diabetes mellitus, as well as their views on the proposed intervention. In addition, we followed up women afterward by telephone to explore their experience of the focus group itself. This case study describes the practicalities involved in assembling the focus groups and some of the challenges in moderating them. It also offers some of the lessons the researchers learned during the process and some of the findings from the follow-up telephone interviews. These findings showed that women valued the opportunity to participate in and contribute to focus group discussions and perceived their involvement to have had therapeutic, social, and educational benefits. This case study demonstrates the potential of focus groups as a useful method, not only for gaining important insights into the experiences and perspectives of certain social groups but also for personal empowerment and motivation toward behavior change. The method may be particularly helpful for vulnerable, marginalized, or disadvantaged populations, as through the process of dialogue with others and by being given a voice, participants can gain a greater understanding of their situation and the potential for change.

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