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Sample Focus Group Case Study

Historical Document

This document is provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ONLY as an historical reference for the public health community. It is no longer being maintained and the data it contains may no longer be current and/or accurate.

Four Focus Groups among Women on Their Reactions to Two Contraceptive Efficacy Tables for Uniform Contraceptive Labeling


In keeping with the goal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop uniform contraceptive labeling, focus groups were conducted to determine a presentation format most useful to the consumer for contraceptive pregnancy rates. The focus group study obtained consumer reactions to several model contraceptive efficacy tables and graphs. Using findings from the study, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health developed for further testing two prototype, composite tables with the characteristics the focus group participants favored for uniform contraceptive labeling.

Study Purpose

To utilize focus groups to garner reactions (perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes) and preferences from women about the format and content of the two different model contraceptive efficacy tables.

Participant Characteristics

The single and married premenopausal women participating in the study were currently using or considering using a birth control method; had not earned a bachelor's degree or above; had no more than two health science or mathematics classes beyond the high school level; and had not participated in a focus group in the past 12 months.

Recruitment Method

Women who had previously expressed interest in participating in focus groups were recruited by phone.

Sample Questions from the Moderator's Guide

  1. What do you know about pregnancy rates?
  2. Where have you seen (or heard) information telling about pregnancy rates for various birth control methods?
  3. Has this information about pregnancy rates been useful to you in deciding on a particular birth control method?
  4. After showing each table:
    1. What does this table tell you?
    2. How easy to understand is this table?
    3. What information here is new to you?
    4. What did you especially like about this table?
    5. What did you dislike about this table?
    6. How useful is this information to you?
    7. What might you change, delete, or add to this table?
  5. How would you describe how well these tables help you understand how effective your birth control method is compared to other birth control methods?
  6. Is there any other format you would suggest?
  7. Is there any other information you would like to see in these tables?
  8. Is there anything else you want to say about the tables you've seen today?

Major Findings

Participants were equally divided between their preference for each of the two tables. Although they did not clearly demonstrate an overwhelming preference for one table over the other, most participants found that the tables met the goal of helping them to understand how effective their birth control method was in comparison to other methods.

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