Focus group discussions (FGD) are gaining in popularity in research on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) internationally as researchers seek to understand the experiences, needs and perspectives of people living with TB and/or HIV as well as their carers within the community and health sector. Conducting FGDs in resource-poor settings with vulnerable participants who are living with diseases that are frequently stigmatised poses multiple challenges. Our approach in this discussion paper is to follow the research cycle to present the practical experience of research teams using FGDs in TB and HIV in resource-poor contexts in Africa and Asia in order to contribute to effective practice. The approach highlights dilemmas and shares effective practice for negotiating initial discussions with different communities, constructing sampling frames and samples, choosing a facilitator, encouraging discussion, ethics, translation, pitfalls and dissemination. We demonstrate the techniques and adaptations needed to ensure that FGDs provide rich, high-quality and policy-relevant data on the voices and perspectives of people living with HIV and TB, community groups and health workers within the challenges of resource-poor settings. In applying theory to develop good practice in FGDs across the research cycle, a critical and reflexive approach is needed.
Theobald, S.; Nyirenda, L.; Tulloch, O.; Makwiza, I.; Tolhurst, R.; Bongololo, G.; Sanou, A.; Katjire, M.; Kilonzo, K.; Fei, Y.; Al-Aghbari, N.; Al-Sonboli, N.; Anderson de Cuevas, R.; Fergusson, P.; Soonthorndhada, A. Sharing experiences and dilemmas of conducting focus group discussions on HIV and tuberculosis in resource-poor settings. International Health (2011) 3 (1) 7-14. [DOI: 10.1016/j.inhe.2010.09.006]