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Using WhatsApp Focus Group Discussions for Qualitative Data Collection: Exploring Knowledge, Attitude, and Perceptions of COVID-19 in Singapore

Published in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, this paper details the merits and challenges of using WhatsApp to collect digital participatory focus group data in a COVID-constrained context.

This qualitative study aimed to explore Singapore residents’ knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviours around COVID-19 as shaped by different information sources. Through utilizing WhatsApp as a means of conducting digital focus group discussions (FGDs), participants were involved in five consecutive days of discussion through both synchronous and asynchronous means.

This study found that the use of WhatsApp as a means of conducting FGDs not only served as a means of generating essential, time-sensitive data in the community, but also enhanced the quality and quantity of data generated, democratized, and enhanced the participatory nature of FGDs, and facilitated the communication of potential issues around data privacy between facilitators and participants.

Although challenges around privacy and confidentiality remain, this means of collecting data is novel in terms of providing timely and relevant data during a pandemic and would be appropriate to be further utilized in the context of other health-related research beyond a public health emergency.

This article was jointly co-authored by RFI (Suan Ee Ong) and NUS School of Public Health (Jane Lim, Rayner Tan, Pearlyn Neo).

Read the full article at

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