Online Focus Groups with Parents and Adolescents with Heart Transplants: Challenges and Opportunities
Beatrice Boateng, Mary Kathryn Nelson, Amy Huett, Julie B. Meaux, Sherry Pye, Barbara Schmid, Alex Berg, Kelci LaPorte, Linda Riley, and Angela Green
Pediatric heart transplant recipients are scarce and widely dispersed. Previous studies of adolescents in this population were limited to small homogenous samples. Although online focus groups are an emerging data collection method, its use in pediatric populations has not been fully realized. The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of using online focus groups with pediatric populations. Adolescents (aged 13 to 21 years) at least 6 months post-heart transplant and their parents were recruited from two children’s hospitals. An online discussion forum (iTracks) was used to conduct asynchronous focus groups with separate parent and adolescent groups. Six parents and four adolescents participated in the discussions. iTracks provided a framework for conducting focus groups in dispersed populations. Access to the discussion transcripts enhanced data analysis and eliminated transcription costs. Overall, online discussion forums were a feasible and cost-effective option to conduct online focus groups in this pediatric population.