By Jason Olsen
Looking to gain real insights from those with lived experience about a specific topic? Interested in a low-cost method that fosters equal participation and discussion over participant domination in a research focus group? Want to know about modifications to make pan-disability (ie., working with participants with different impairments) research focus groups more inclusive?
The Nominal Group Technique developed by Ven and Delbecq (1972) has been used for more than 50 years. Key to its success is the posing of a single unambiguous and unbiased question about a problem that can generate a wide range of answers. The process structures the meeting to enable critical dimensions of the question to be identified, ranked and rated in a way that:
- limits the influence of the researcher leading the project, as well as the influence of attendees,
- allows participants to clarify the question’s dimensions and gaps,
- increases the likelihood of equal participation for all group members,
- affords equal influence to different, and potentially conflicting, values and ideas.