Establish ground rules

The ground rules for the group should be established, voted upon and implemented at the initiation of each year and regularly reviewed. Rules regarding confidentiality of the discussion points, the non-existence of right or wrong answers, and the right to express one’s opinion without being ridiculed are some examples of ground rules [11,12]. For some groups, requirements set out may include, but are not limited to: attendance, voting procedures, elections, membership (officers, committees, general membership, probationary terms), and purpose of the group, etc.
The young advisors should also be given the opportunity to voice additional ground rules. Each session should include introductions, discussion, and wrap-up.

During a meeting, the coordinator must ensure that all YPAG members have the opportunity to participate; know when and how to elicit input, more information, or clarification from an individual using verbal and non-verbal feedback; limit the development of conformity of viewpoints from the youth; be watchful of hierarchies that may develop as a result of a few individuals dominating the discussions [13]; and reorient group conversation if digressions occur [11]. The coordinator should wrap-up the meeting by summarizing the chief comments from the group and thanking all parties.

Discussions with visiting researchers should be held a priori to ensure they understand the need to maintain lay language, host interactive sessions, and maintain open discussions with questions that will not sway member opinions.


[11] Peterson-Sweeney K. The use of focus groups in pediatric and adolescent research. J Pediatr Health Care. 2005;19(2):104-10.
[12] Kennedy C, Kools S, Kreuger R. Methodological Considerations in Children’s Focus Groups. Nurs Res. 2001;50(3):184-7.
[13] Horner SD. Using focus group methods with middle school children. Res Nurs Health. 2000;23(6):510-7.

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