We conducted our final focus group session last Friday. The focus groups became relatively easier to set up and manage each day; and we only had minor changes to our approach during the week. The women were cooperative and provided us with information that we wouldn’t normally receive from other research methodologies. We were able to gauge their reaction and opinions on the current nutritional label and newly developed warning messages samples; although there were times when the discussion would go off track. There were also dominate individuals in a couple of our focus groups who tried steering the participants overall views to her favor. As we listened to our tape recordings from our first two focus groups, we realized these issues and it became clear that it will continue to occur. For the following focus groups, Perlita did a wonderful job in reverting the conversations back to our topic of interest and creating more of an open discussion by encouraging others to share their viewpoint.
We heard many responses and deliberation throughout the discussion. For example, we would take turns showing each warning message labels and ask about their interpretation of it. While many of our participants said “Alto en Sal” and “Alto en Sodio” are interchangeable, we discovered that “Alto en Sal” is the most preferred message. “Sal” is a known ingredient and a deeply rooted term to the Chilean people before “Sodio” was introduced into their culture. In addition, I mentioned how a research publication written about the effectiveness of color use in public health campaigns piqued my interest. In turns out that white text on a black background attracted the same attention in our focus groups. We’ve noted that there were usually a general consensus for almost every topic, in which we were trying to achieve however, we needed to code our transcriptions to find the true relations and comparisons between all five of our focus group sessions.
In order to do this, we have been using the qualitative data software called ATLAS.ti. The program serves as an analysis tool to organize all of our transcript data and help create diagrams to display relationships between our codes. Since we were not as familiar with the software, Dr. Corvalan contacted one of her colleagues who had worked with it before. We were invited to an informal training session to learn about the fundamentals of the program. We learned that prior to facilitating a focus group, we needed to design a conceptual framework that contains our variables, dimensions, and sub-dimensions. This will be essential in exploring and maintaining the aims of our research. To explain this step by step procedure, we would start with the textual level or quotations/responses and transform it into the conceptual level network-building map of all of our discoveries. So far, ATLAS.ti is helping us revisit our project’s goals and we have been trying to learn about the trends and patterns of our participant’s perception. At this time, we are preparing our findings to present to the INTA staff this Thursday.