The Process for Focus Groups

hand with pen

Where will we find a church that heals?

Before rushing into writing a pastoral letter or developing the implementation plan, we felt the first step was to listen to the communities that would be impacted by the pastoral letter and/or those who would provide insight into moving toward good health for all. Over a five month period (March to July, 2006) focus groups were held with 10 groups of people throughout the Diocese of West Virginia. The focus groups provided insight to the issues surrounding health and a force-field analysis was used to distill the information and prioritize issues.


How did we develop the focus groups? The focus groups were designed to help people think about health and the church’s response. In developing focus groups we included parishes, diverse community partners, and individuals from the broader community.

How did we facilitate the discussion?

      1. Describe the current understanding of health– When you hear “good health”, what comes to mind?
      2. Define the desired situation-A Church That Heals
        • Definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
      3. Brainstorm the driving and restraining forces in relation to achieving good health– In your community, what are key things that support good health? In your community, what are the key things that work against good health?
      4. Develop a strategy for a solution by determining which of the driving forces to strengthen and which of the restraining forces to weaken: How can we strengthen those supports? How can we reduce those things that work against good health?
      5. Check the strategy to see if it will move the group towards its goal: What should be the churches response to these?

How did we analyze the comments?
We used a planning tool called force-field analysis which highlights both the assets and liabilities people have for reaching a goal. This easy to use process helps with recording the information we heard, categorizing the data and making realistic plans. A force-field analysis can also highlight why progress is not being made.

Force-Field Analysis

Goal -> Good Health
“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmit

Ways to strengthen Driving Forces Restraining Forces Ways to minimize these