Table 1

Challenges and adaptations of remote FGDs via FBMR

Remote FGD procedureAdaptations and recommendations
Setting up FGD session
  • Obtain informed consent (individually, online, prior to FGD session).

  • Search and verify FB Messenger accounts of participants.

  • Create FBMR (‘Anyone with the Link’ option should be selected when creating the room).

  • Copy and send meeting link to participants.

  • Send participants a reminder message (ie, short background of the activity, date, time).

  • Confirm participants have accepted the invitation on their FB Messenger prior to the session.

  • Provide participants with load cards/mobile data credit (ensures connectivity of participants and minimises their expenses).

  • Advise participants to look for a quiet private place, if available.

  • Ask participants for their FB Messenger account name and any description of their profile picture (eg, photo colour, background, wearing hat, etc) to ensure that only study participants are invited to the room.

  • Provide those without an FB Messenger account with the meeting link and information on how to join via text or any other messaging application.

  • Advise participants to update FB Messenger application prior to the FGD to avoid difficulties when trying to join the FGD.

Executing the FGD
  • Anyone with the link can automatically join, so ensure that only verified participants are accepted.

  • Discuss session rules, highlighting those pertinent to an online format (eg, not recording the session, no photos or screen grabs).

  • Introduce yourself as the moderator and the notetaker (as well as any additional study staff, such as IT specialist).

  • Make use of the ‘mute participants’ function (available to the person who created the room, that is, the notetaker) to minimise background noise. However, only participants can unmute themselves (remind them to unmute when answering).

  • Be attentive for cues indicating participants being distracted (eg, doing household chores or activities at the side). Call them, ask their viewpoints, and bring them back to the conversation. Use ‘roll calls’ when necessary.

  • Type questions in the chat (notetaker) in case some participants have difficulties hearing the questions.

End of session
  • Close the room (click ‘end’).

  • Delete any remaining messages in the room group chat.

  • Keep track of participants leaving the meeting early, and follow-up with them as needed.

  • Note that the in-meeting group chat remains accessible even if the room has ‘ended’ requiring the research team to delete the messages to ensure confidentiality.

  • FB, Facebook; FBMR, FB Messenger Room; FGDs, focus group discussions; IT, information technology.