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Photo of man with a walking stick sitting in a chair

Work Package 9


Focus groups will aim to explore participants' personal views and experiences.

Experiential evidence

Experiential research methods are being used to address questions arising from the modelling and survey, and to interpret and understand their results.


Issues are being explored in interactive focus group settings, in which people with mild cognitive impairment and carers will discuss their attitudes, beliefs and experiences with others. Focus-group discussions are increasingly popular for exploring what individuals believe or feel, as well as why they behave in the ways they do. Used in the context of an experiential research approach, they also offer a useful vehicle for involving users in the research and interpretation of findings. The method is ideally suited for exploring complexity.


Group discussions have potential advantages over individual interviews for people with cognitive impairments, including enhanced quality of interaction, reduced pressure on individuals to respond, mutual support, and that shared experiences can trigger ideas and memories. The groups are helping to provide insights and understandings for interpreting quantitative findings, including carers’ experiences of the processes of accessing dementia-related services.


Four focus groups of eight people each with mild dementia, and four separate groups of eight carers each are being set up (held at same venues, at the same times). Potential participants are being recruited through voluntary sector organisations and the team’s existing contacts.


Using skilled facilitators with experience of working with people with dementia has been found to be important, especially in giving prompts to move people on to new areas of discussion and to avoid leading anyone with answers. The team has considerable previous experience of managing focus group research, including with older people and carers

Ann Bowling, David McDaid, Josie Dixon

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