The primary objective of this systematic review was to investigate how Western focus groups and Indigenous sharing circles have been blended for the study of Indigenous children’s health. The secondary objective of this study was to propose recommendations for adapting focus groups to include elements of sharing circles. This systematic review was conducted using a systematic search of original research articles published between 2009 and 2020 that (a) focused on North American Indigenous children’s health and (b) used group-based qualitative methods including focus groups and sharing circles. Each of the articles was screened for relevance and quality. The methods sections were reviewed, subjected to qualitative content analysis, and codes were analyzed to identify common themes and synthesize results. We identified 29 articles, most of which followed a community-based participatory research approach. In these publications, most included a community advisory board, ethics approval was obtained, and in some cases, community members were included as research assistants. There was evidence that sharing circles and focus group methods had been blended in the recent Indigenous children’s health literature. This was particularly apparent in the authors’ approaches to recruitment, location, facilitation techniques, question format and reimbursement. Several groups have published results that describe approaches that successfully incorporated aspects of Indigenous sharing circles into Western focus groups, thus establishing a research method that is culturally safe and appropriate for the study of Indigenous children’s health.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute