Author: Jennifer L. Harrison, Ph.D., LP Solutions IRB Reviewer and Board Member
Considerations for Design of Virtual Focus Group
- Do the risks outweigh the benefits?
- Can taking notes suffice instead of recording? And then discard the notes immediately after analysis is complete?
- If you prefer to record, can you agree to delete the recordings immediately after analysis? Can you ensure that participants’ names will not be used on the recordings and instead ask that they use a pseudonym?
- Can you obtain a certificate of confidentiality from the NIH (depending upon the type of information that is collected in the study)?
- Video recording is more identifiable than audio recording, though audio recording is still identifiable by voice. Can you use audio recording in lieu of video and audio recording in instances where the participants’ identity should be protected?
Checklist for Consent Form
- Ensure that risks for a breach of confidentiality – specifically related to focus groups and the researcher’s inability to guarantee confidentiality of information discussed – is addressed in the risks section and how this will be mitigated to the extent possible.
- Include a statement that asks for consent to audio and/or video record prior to asking for consent to participate (e.g., “I provide consent to be audio recorded.”).
- Include a statement that indicates whether or not the participant can still participate if they decline to be recorded (e.g., “I understand that if I decide not to be recorded, I cannot participate in this study.” OR “I understand that if I decide not to be recorded, I can still participate in this study.”).
- Include a statement that asks for consent to participate.
- If a waiver of documentation of consent was requested, ensure that either a box to be checked is used or some other way for the researcher to document that consent was obtained is included on the form – instead of a signature line – as names should not be collected in this instance for protecting participant identities – if there could be potential harm to the participant in the event of a breach of confidentiality.
Checklist for Obtaining Informed Consent and Consent to Record for Virtual Focus Group
- Gather informed consent to participate on an individual basis.
- Gather consent to audio and/or video record on an individual basis, at the same time as informed consent.
- Within the focus group script, ensure that verbalizations are added to denote when the recording will begin and end so that participants are aware.
- Do not ask for consent to participate in the focus group again at the time of the focus group – this has already been obtained at the time of informed consent.
- Do not ask for consent to audio and/or video record again at the time of the focus group – this has already been obtained at the time of informed consent.