In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a research study that utilized in-person focus groups to collect qualitative data was abruptly shifted to videoconference focus groups to minimize risk to subjects. Protocol amendments consisted of using an online scheduling tool to arrange focus groups by Zoom, providing electronic versions of consent forms and demographic surveys, and highlighting security features of the videoconference software. Lessons were learned from making an abrupt switch from in-person to remote focus groups. Making this type of shift is not simply a matter of switching for researcher convenience but includes determining the appropriateness of an abrupt switch for the research population of interest, fully understanding videoconference software best practices, decreasing focus group sizes, and increasing the incentive for participation.


ethnography videoconference, focus group, lessons learned

Author Bio(s)

Crystal Walker joined the faculty of the UTHSC College of Nursing in January of 2016. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Mississippi in 2009, and she is a three-time graduate of UTHSC: She earned her Master’s of Science in nursing as a clinical nurse leader in 2011, Ph.D. in nursing in 2015, and DNP as a family nurse practitioner in 2016. She worked as an oncology nurse in the inpatient setting from 2011 to 2014, and her background in oncology supported her research interest as she focuses on the prevention of anal cancer in people living with HIV. She is interested in HIV primary care, the prevention of lower genital tract diseases, and sexual health. She currently practices as an advanced practice nurse at Regional One Health in the Adult Special Care Clinic, a patient-centered comprehensive clinic for adults living with HIV, and her primary area of teaching includes health assessment in the baccalaureate and doctoral nursing programs. She is a member of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, American Nurses Association, Tennessee Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and The UTHSC College of Nursing Alumni Board. Please direct correspondence to cmarti47@uthsc.edu.

Dr. Alexia Williams, assistant professor, joined the UTHSC College of Nursing faculty in 2014. She earned her associates degree in nursing from Shelby State Community College in 1994, received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Union University in 2010, and her Ph.D. in Nursing Science from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 2015. Her research interests have focused on health disparities, minority health, and mental health in male caregivers within the context of chronic illness. She has completed both mixed method and qualitative research projects involving burden, depression, and perceived health in male caregivers of persons with end stage renal disease and stroke survivors, respectively. Dr. Williams has practiced in numerous facets of the nursing profession throughout her 23-year career, developing expertise in medical-surgical and psychiatric nursing. Her teaching responsibilities include providing both clinical and didactic instruction within the undergraduate program and didactic instruction in the graduate program. Her areas of teaching include Professional Issues and Transition to Professional Nursing, Mental Health, Adult Health, and Healthcare Economics. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, the Southern Nurses Research Society, and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Please direct correspondence to lwilli97@uthsc.edu.

Dr. Trimika Bowdre joined the UTHSC College of Nursing in 2005 as a Public Health Nursing Program Coordinator and later joined the faculty in 2017 as an Assistant Professor. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Xavier University of Louisiana, a master’s degree in Public Health—Health Policy and Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Ph.D. in Public Health-Community Health and Health Promotion from Walden University. Her research interests are HIV, health disparities, and the older adult population. Dr. Bowdre has worked in numerous areas of the public health profession throughout her 21-year career, from the public health department, leading the HIV/AIDS Education and Community Development- Health Planning Sections to administering public health nursing grants in the academic realm. Her primary area of teaching is epidemiology in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. She is a member of the American Public Health Association and The National Society of Leadership and Success. Please direct correspondence to tbowdre@uthsc.edu.


The authors would like to acknowledge Mr. Curtis Roby, Scientific Editor at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center/College of Nursing, for his editorial assistance.

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