Original Articles:Using Focus Groups to Interview Persons with Moderate and Severe Dementia

Dympna Casey, Kathy Murphy


Background Only people with dementia can articulate the real experience of living with dementia but frequently they are viewed as incapable of articulating their needs. In the conduct of research one to one interviews is the most common method used to interview people with dementia. Although focus groups have been used with persons with dementia few studies have included persons with moderate and severe dementia.

Aim This paper reviews the use of focus groups and describes how focus groups were implemented with persons with moderate and severe dementia to explore what attributes they valued most in professional carers.

Methods A qualitative interpretive descriptive design was used to ascertain what attributes of carers were most valued by people with dementia. A purposive sample of people with dementia (n=5) attending one respite centre were involved in the study. The CORTE interviewing techniques were used to guide the interviewing process and to maximize the responses of people with dementia.

Findings People with dementia engaged in the focus group discussions and stimulated each other to engage. Participants appeared to enjoy the focus group whilst providing invaluable information as to what they valued most in professional carers, -kindness, gentleness, humour, and carers willing to meaningful engage with their preferred activities. 

Conclusion This study demonstrates the potential utility of focus groups as a data collection method for use with persons with moderate and severe dementia. Further research is needed to explore if the methods used in this small study can be replicated.

Keywords: dementia; focus groups; CORTE interviewing guide; qualitative research.

Received: December 12, 2013; Accepted: January 15, 2014; Published: April 11, 2014

Corresponding Author: Dympna Casey, RGN, BA, MA, PhD. E-mail: dympna.casey@nuigalway.ie.


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