Situational Factors in Focus Group Studies: A Systematic Review

Arne Orvik, Lillebeth Larun, Astrid Berland, Karin C. Ringsberg


The aim of this study was to see how contextual factors are expressed, used, and analyzed in data collected in focus group discussions (FGDs). The study includes an assessment of how the methodological reporting of contextual factors might influence and improve the trustworthiness of articles. Articles reporting workplace health, stress, and coping among health professionals were identified in a systematic review and used in the analysis. By using Vicsek’s framework of situational factors for analysis of focus group results as a starting point, we found that contextual factors were most frequently described in the method sections and less frequently in the results and discussion sections. Vicsek’s framework for the analysis of focus group results covers six contextual and methodological dimensions: interactional factors, personal characteristics of the participants, the moderator, the environment, time factors, and the content of FGDs. We found that the framework does not include a consideration of psychological safety, ethical issues, or organizational information. To deepen the analysis of focus group results, we argue that contextual factors should be analyzed as methodological dimensions and be considered as a sensitizing concept. Credibility, confirmability, dependability, and transferability can be strengthened by using, reporting, and discussing contextual factors in detail. The study contributes to elucidating how reporting of contextual data may enrich the analysis of focus group results and strengthen the trustworthiness. Future research should focus on clear reporting of contextual factors as well as further develop Vicsek’s model to enhance reporting accuracy and transferability.

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