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Worlds within worlds: a strategy for using interpretative phenomenological analysis with focus groups

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There is increasing interest in applying interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to focus group data and in developing appropriate strategies for doing so. These strategies should exploit the unique features of focus groups, which provide a rich canvas of experiences not seen in individual interviews, while remaining true to the personal, phenomenological perspective of IPA. We present a four-stage approach with specific group focused analytical strategies: looking for “groupness,” clustering reoccurring group interactions, identifying interactional relationships, and incorporating group elements into an analysis. These stages are illustrated with worked examples developed while working with data from focus groups of women with gynaecological cancer discussing a yoga intervention, and explain how these can enrich our understanding of participants’ lived experiences. This approach demonstrates a suggested framework for developing IPA themes from focus group data by analysing and interpreting the group setting. We discuss links to psychological concepts, potential applications and limitations. This empirically based methodology is presented as a practical guide for other researchers grappling with this type of data.
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Keywords: Experiential; focus groups; gynaecological cancer; interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA); part-whole relationships; qualitative analysis methods; yoga

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom 2: Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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