Focal groups: concepts, procedures and reflections based on practical experiences of research works in the health area

In the two last decades it has been evidenced a significant development of focal groups as a data collection instrument in researches in the field of Collective Health in Brazil. By occupying the function of main technique or as a complementary and qualitative strategy, its use attends invariably to the purpose of apprehending perceptions, opinions and feelings, once is faced to a determined theme within an interactive environment. The regularity regarding the use of the focal group technique contrasts with the observed variation of requirements and practical procedures described. This paper presents concepts, purposes and procedures related to the focal group technique and discusses its practical use in research, particularly in the health field. So this work allies data from specialized literature review with reflections arising of the author's own experience with the use of this technique, especially in health evaluation researches.

focal groups; methodological procedures; potentialities; qualitative evaluation

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