Table 1

Design, recruitment and preparation, implementation, and follow-up of online focus groups

StagesInclusive features of the online focus groups
  • Employment of people with disability on research team.

  • Ethical consent sought from The University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Advice on accessibility features sought, fully costed and budgeted, for example, Live captioning and the use of Auslan interpreters.

  • Focus group question guide and accessibility approaches developed by research team, which included people with disability.

  • Facilitators of focus groups participated in a series of ‘test runs’ of online focus groups to refine roles and processes, and to test accessibility features.

  • Engaged and funded the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability and the Council for Intellectual Disability to develop Easy Read versions of materials to support online focus groups for people with intellectual disability.

Recruitment and preparation
  • Participants were recruited through approach emails sent to key contacts in Disabled People’s Organisations, Disability Representative Organisations, healthcare consumer organisations and Primary Health Networks.*

  • The approach email described the purpose of the research and invited up to four representatives from each organisation to participate in a focus group.

  • Participants were offered an individual interview with flexible times rather than a focus group if they preferred.

  • On confirmation of availability, participants were emailed a fact sheet about the voluntary patient registration scheme; a participant information sheet; a list of discussion questions for the focus group; and a link to complete the consent process using the online platform RedCap or the option of an oral consent process.

  • On registration, all participants were asked if they had any accessibility requirements and, if so, to advise us.

  • Instructions on how to use Zoom were sent to participants ahead of time and participants offered support to test run and troubleshoot.

  • The technical support person was available to participants 15 min before the online focus group meeting and for its duration.

  • Online focus groups were generally scheduled for 1 hour and cofacilitated by two members of the research team, one of whom had lived experience of disability.

  • Live captioning was used for online focus groups, and other accessibility features, such as Auslan, were available as required.

  • Participants were invited to use the ‘chat’ function in Zoom to write their immediate thoughts or to contribute as they saw fit.

  • The discussion questions were placed in the ‘chat’ function by technical support person to aid access to these as required.

  • PowerPoint slides used for the online focus groups had a large sans serif font (Arial 24 pt), black text on white background, minimal words and ample white space between dot points to avoid overcrowded text.

  • The slides were read out by a cofacilitator to ensure accessibility for all participants. For the groups involving participants with intellectual disability, an Easy Read version of the slides was used with images to accompany the text.

  • All focus groups were recorded with participants’ consent.

  • Cofacilitators met before each focus group to decide on roles, and afterwards to debrief about what worked and what could be changed for future focus groups.

  • Participants were offered AUD$50 vouchers if they were participating in their own time, not as part of their paid employment.

  • Everyone received a ‘participant feedback report’ outlining the results of the research, with an Easy Read version provided to participants with intellectual disability.

  • *Disabled People’s Organisation is an organisation that is controlled by people with disability. A Disability Representative Organisation is an organisation that represents the interests of and advocates for people with disability.