Interpreting outcomes: Using focus groups in evaluation research

Sylvia J. Ansay, Daniel F. Perkins, Colonel John Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (SciVal)


Although focus groups continue to gain popularity in marketing and social science research, their use in program evaluation has been limited. Here we demonstrate how focus groups can benefit evaluators, program staff, policy makers and administrators by providing an in-depth understanding of program effectiveness from the perspective of participants as stakeholders in program outcomes. Using data from the Youth Action Program, a prevention program funded by the United States Air Force for military dependent adolescents at risk, our methodology included a narrative approach to data analysis, combining theme analysis with a systematic interpretive approach centering on how group members experienced the program within the contexts of their daily lives. We show that the parents benefited from the program beyond youth outcomes, and this was useful information for program improvement and expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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