Develop a SART
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Gather Community Data

Focus Groups

Focus groups are indepth interviews with groups of people designed to identify specific issues. Whereas needs assessments and victim surveys help communities determine a course of action once a problem or issue has been identified, focus groups help uncover problems or issues that may not be recognized.8 Listening as people share different points of view provides a wealth of information—not just about what they think, but why they think the way they do.

Begin planning the focus group meeting at least 1 month in advance, and make sure to start with clear and measurable goals when developing the meeting agenda. Limit participation to 6–12 individuals and the timeframe from 90 minutes to 3 hours. To generate meaningful group discussions, focus group facilitators must be able to separate themselves from the topics at hand, maintain complete objectivity, and have no hidden agendas that will affect the outcomes.9

Facilitation Tips
  • Ask an opening question—either a very general question about violence or a specific question about sexual assault.
  • Summarize what you think you have heard and ask if the group agrees.
  • Rephrase participant's questions.
  • Ask probing questions.
  • Make eye contact with each member in the group, especially with those who may not have spoken.
  • When all questions have been asked, and before the group ends, ask if anyone has any other comments to make. This strategy can be useful in gathering other opinions that have not yet been voiced.
  • Tell the members about any next steps that will occur.

Source: Work Group for Community Health and Development, "Conducting Focus Groups," The Community Toolbox.