Hearing voices: Comparing two methods for analysis of focus group data

Document Type

Journal Article


W.B. Saunders Co.

Place of Publication

United States


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Greenwood, M., Kendrick, T., Davies, H., & Gill, F. J. (2017). Hearing voices: Comparing two methods for analysis of focus group data. Applied Nursing Research, 35(1), 90-93. Available here.


Aim This paper compares two qualitative approaches used to thematically analyse data obtained from focus groups conducted with critical care nurses from Australia. Background Focus groups are an effective mechanism to generate understanding and gain insight into the research participants' world. Traditional verbatim transcription of participants' recorded words necessitates significant investment of time and resources. An alternative approach under reported in the literature is to directly analyse the audio recordings. To identify the effectiveness of the audio recording only approach, the study aimed to independently compare two qualitative methods of data analysis, namely the traditional transcribed method with the audio recording method. Methods The study to revise the specialist critical care competency standards included focus groups conducted in each state in Australia (n = 12) facilitated by experienced researchers. Two of the research team analysed transcribed focus group data and two team members were blinded to the transcription process and directly analysed audio recordings from the focus groups. A process of thematic analysis used independently by the two teams was used to identify themes. Results When the findings were compared, the themes generated using each technique were consistent and there were no different themes or subthemes identified. The two techniques appeared to be comparable. Overarching key themes were consistent with the approach. Conclusion The direct analysis method appears to have advantages. It is cost effective, trustworthy and possibly a superior alternative when used with focus group data. However, the audio only method requires experienced researchers who understand the context and if combining the two approaches takes time to do.



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