A System for Coding the Interaction in Focus Groups and Dyadic Interviews

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The Qualitative Report

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Interaction among participants is the fundamental mechanism that generates data in focus groups. Despite calls for ways to analyze interaction in focus groups, there is still an unmet need to develop such tools. We present a coding system to investigate interaction by emphasizing how participants use the substantive aspects of the topics they discuss. We then apply it to the question of how conversations in dyadic interviews (with two participants) compare to discussions in focus groups (with four or more participants). We find that dyadic interviews are more likely to contain explicit connections to the content of the previous speaker’s statement, and to generate more statements of agreement, indicating a higher degree of mutual attunement. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of our coding system in one particular context. We conclude by considering both the limitations of this system and the possibilities for extending it in future research.

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