Interpretive focus groups: a participatory method for interpreting and extending secondary analysis of qualitative data Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    Participatory approaches to qualitative research practice constantly change in response to evolving research environments. Researchers are increasingly encouraged to undertake secondary analysis of qualitative data, despite epistemological and ethical challenges. Interpretive focus groups can be described as a more participative method for groups to analyse qualitative data.


    To facilitate interpretive focus groups with women in Papua New Guinea to extend analysis of existing qualitative data and co-create new primary data. The purpose of this was to inform a transformational grounded theory and subsequent health promoting action.


    A two-step approach was used in a grounded theory study about how women experience male circumcision in Papua New Guinea. Participants analysed portions or 'chunks' of existing qualitative data in story circles and built upon this analysis by using the visual research method of storyboarding.


    New understandings of the data were evoked when women in interpretive focus groups analysed the data 'chunks'. Interpretive focus groups encouraged women to share their personal experiences about male circumcision. The visual method of storyboarding enabled women to draw pictures to represent their experiences. This provided an additional focus for whole-of-group discussions about the research topic.


    Interpretive focus groups offer opportunity to enhance trustworthiness of findings when researchers undertake secondary analysis of qualitative data. The co-analysis of existing data and co-generation of new data between research participants and researchers informed an emergent transformational grounded theory and subsequent health promoting action.


publication date

  • December 2014