The paper 'Studying Culturally Diverse Groups' is a perfect example of preclinical research. Although quantitative research techniques have been used extensively in the field of western medicine, the use of qualitative research techniques, especially focuses groups, is slowly gaining prominence. Calderon, Baker, & Wolf (2000) define focus groups as, “ small groups that have as their objective the acquisition of information based on the perceptions, beliefs, traditions, and values of its participants” (p. 92). In the field of healthcare, focus groups have been useful in examining the information regarding perception of illness, values, and benefits about the need for health care, attitudes towards treatment options and preference regarding health care provider (Calderon et al. , 2000).
All these are important factors that determine an individual’ s health status, especially those of minority and vulnerable populations. Therefore, the information gathered through focus groups has proved to be very useful in developing and designing culturally appropriate research protocols in healthcare. Calderon et al. (2000) state that at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, they have been able to combine qualitative research techniques like focus groups and quantitative research techniques like surveys to develop culturally sound research protocols.
The authors have also used focus groups to develop culturally competent medical education programs, needs assessment protocols and program assessment tools. Focus groups have also become valuable tools in gaining a realistic perspective of current health trends with respect to changing populations. In fact, qualitative research has the potential to “ play a greater role in helping educators develop programs for medical education and researchers in directing their studies to better understand the needs of minorities and other vulnerable populations” (Calderon et al. , 2000, p.
94). Focus groups have therefore proved to be a useful tool that complements quantitative research techniques, rather than replace it.
Calderon, J. L., Baker, R. S., & Wolf, K. E. (2000). Focus groups: A qualitative method
complementing quantitative research for studying culturally diverse groups. Education for Health, 13(1), 91-95.