Focus-group methods: effects on village-agency collaboration for child survival

Publication year: 

In the West African nation of Togo mid-level health workers are being routinely trained to conduct focus-group interviews with mothers of children under five. The intent is to establish qualitative data bases that complement conventional survey data. The authors document the findings of a five-day training programme during which health workers collected data from 81 focus groups (324 mothers). Two unanticipated effects emerged: firstly that the focus group method democratized data gathering by forcing health workers out of their perceived roles as experts and teachers; secondly that by stimulating this shift in roles community competence was enhanced, thereby promoting collaborative programme planning by health workers and target villages. Evidence is given that focus-group discussions paved the way for highly successful education campaigns which dramatically increased child vaccination rates.

Interest groups: 
This excellent article will be of interest to government health managers in any developing country considering institutionalising focus-group discussions. The authors discussion of focus groups within the context of a social marketing strategy will be of interest to health researchers.
Source publication information
Journal Title: 
Health policy and planning
Vol. 5 no. 1

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