The do’s and don’ts of using focus groups in prevention research

Nikki Gambles is a third year PhD student studying at the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University. In this article, she reflects on some of her experiences of using focus groups in her PhD research.

For this month’s blog, I take time to reflect on my recent experiences conducting focus group (FG) interviews with young adults and share the challenges that I faced along the way. Beginning my first qualitative research project was a daunting experience. When it came to planning the FG study, I was met by a plethora of conflicting research outlining the dos and don’ts of FG practice. I found it difficult at times to understand which of the practices would do my research justice and which recommendations I should adhere to. Here, I share my own experiences of the challenges I was faced with and reflect on what did and did not work.

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How to motivate incarcerated youth? Issues of an early-career researcher

This month’s contribution comes from Aniek van Herwaarden, who is a graduate student at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She is involved in research projects which address behavioral problems in youth with mild intellectual disabilities. In this blog post, she evaluates her experiences as an early-career researcher in this field.

As I am currently working as a student assistant on a project for youth who are resident in juvenile institutions, several ethical, practical and societal issues cross my mind. In this blog post, I will describe some of these issues. In particular, motivation of incarcerated youth and being an early-career researcher are two of the major difficulties I encountered during my work at the juvenile institution.

How to make your participants as excited as you are about your research?

Within the research project “Change Your Mindset! – Forensic Care”, a newly developed, short-term, on-line intervention program is being carried out. This project is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam and Pluryn in The Netherlands, by principal investigator Petra Helmond. The intervention targets at changing the participant’s mindset from a fixed mindset to a so-called “growth-mindset”. The latter includes a way of thinking in possibilities and growth, rather than pessimism and disabilities (see also: Yeager & Dweck, 20121).

As a researcher, you would think this program sells itself: it is on-line, it contains fast videos and interactive animations, it involves peers who have been in prison as well, and gadgets (rewards) are provided after each session. Unfortunately, practice shows differently. Continue reading

  1. Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302-314. []

Looking beyond randomization to estimate the effects of interventions in RCTs

This month’s contribution comes from Sinziana Oncioiu, who is a public health researcher affiliated with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. In this article, she will provide an in-depth delineation of her research which she presented at the EUSPR conference in Ljubljana in 2015. Her research targets complementary analyses to intention-to-treat analysis in an effectiveness study that was conducted at Karolinska Institutet.    

At the 6th annual conference of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR), I had the chance to present the results of my Master’s thesis. Its focus was on alternative methods to intention-to-treat (ITT) for a better understanding of the effects of interventions evaluated using randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The data I worked with came from the FRITT study which stands for “Free from tobacco in dentistry”. It is an RCT designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief counselling on tobacco cessation in dental clinics in Sweden1. The ITT analysis showed that the brief advice was effective in reducing the amount of tobacco used at baseline, but not in achieving abstinence1. In this post, I will walk you through the main lessons learnt during this study. Continue reading

  1. Virtanen, S. E., Zeebari, Z., Rohyo, I., & Galanti, M. R. (2015). Evaluation of a brief counseling for tobacco cessation in dental clinics among Swedish smokers and snus users. A cluster randomized controlled trial (the FRITT study). Preventive Medicine, 70, 26–32. []