Open air focus group in rural Nepal, (c) Sheetal Sharma 2013.
Roosters crowing, cows mooing, bleating goats, birds chirping, mobile phones ringing, children screaming, laughing and running around while women, breastfeeding, talk over one another excitedly in the sun as they need to leave us soon to drop the children off to school and/or head to the field to cultivate the season’s crop this spring it is wheat, last summer, rice. Women do this work as most of their husbands are away in the capital, Kathmandu or in the Arab Gulf. This is the reality of conducting focus groups in rural Nepal.
Although we, as researchers, spend considerable time to perfect the ideal ‘tool’ of the interview schedule and imagine the transcription clear and the background; a researcher must be prepared for every eventuality. Noise, din and interruptions: Today a dog nibbled on a nearby goat and a few men kept creeping to listen in why was this videshi (foreigner) recording conversations and making notes. The women shooed them away as today was a discussion on contraception; also that the discussion of the focus groups should be in ‘controlled environment’, safe, quiet; and in Nepal where women are not the main decision-maker for their reproductive health, it should mean a lieu women should be able to discuss freely these issues. In this Green Tara’s (www.greentaratrust.com) intervention area, which my PhD, supervised at HSC BU by Catherine Angell, Vanora Hundley, Edwin van Teijlingen and University of Sheffield’s Padam Simkhada, aims to evaluate both quantitatively and qualitatively, shows one the decision-making outcomes improved: increased the use of contraception in the Pharping area from 4.3% (2008) to 24.6% (2012) after 5 years of health promotion conducted by two auxiliary nurse-midwives.
40 minutes later recording (with 2 digital recorders) and once the demographic data and recording is double-checked and any last questions answered we set off walking 2 hours downhill visiting a tea-shop on the way for a cup of chai.
Edwin van Teijlingen and Emma Pitchforth, Qualitative Research: Focus group research in family planning and reproductive health care J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 2006;32:1 30-32doi:10.1783/147118906775275299