Using Exploratory Focus Groups to Establish a Sampling Strategy to Investigate Disability Experienced by Adults Living with HIV Academic Article uri icon

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  • In HIV clinical research, participants are typically sampled based on demographic and/or disease characteristics. As little is known about HIV-specific disability, we did not know whether this purposive type of sampling would be helpful and what characteristics (if any) should guide our sampling strategy. We describe using exploratory focus groups to determine a sampling strategy to investigate disability from the perspective of adults living with HIV. We conducted 4 focus groups with 23 men and women and asked participants to describe their health-related challenges and impact on their overall health. We analyzed data to determine whether health-related challenges differed based on age, gender, ethnocultural background, length of time since HIV diagnosis and antiretroviral use and if these characteristics should be considered when sampling. Participants described seven health-related challenges that appeared not to vary based on demographic or disease characteristics. Variations emerged in the way health-related challenges manifested and the strategies participants used to deal with these challenges. Consequently, we decided upon a broad theoretical sampling strategy for the subsequent interview phase. Exploratory focus groups may be a useful technique to determine a sampling strategy when exploring a new phenomenon in HIV qualitative research.


  • O'Brien, Kelly
  • Bayoumi, Ahmed
  • Davis, Aileen
  • Young, Nancy
  • Strike, Carol

publication date

  • November 1, 2009