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Zooming into Focus Groups: Strategies for Qualitative Research in the Era of Social Distancing


Qualitative research methods are important and have become increasingly prominent in medical education and research. The reason is simple: many pressing questions in these fields require qualitative approaches to elicit nuanced insights and additional meaning beyond standard quantitative measurements in surveys or observatons. Among the most common qualitative data collection methods are structured or semistructured in-person interviews and focus groups, in which participants describe their experiences relevant to the research question at hand. In the era of physical and social distancing because of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, little guidance exists for strategies for conducting focus groups or semistructured interviews. Here we describe our experience with, and recommendations for, conducting remote focus groups and/or interviews in the era of social distancing. Specifically, we discuss best practice recommendations for researchers using video teleconferencing programs to continue qualitative research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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