Group discussion is the most commonly employed method of health education. It involves the free flow of communication between a facilitator and two or more participants (Figure 2.6).
Figure 2.6 Group discussions create a forum for exchanging experiences.
The advantages of group discussion as a method of health promotion are that it:
- Encourages equal participation from all members
- Increases motivation to act on the health education message
- Helps participants to synthesise knowledge, new ideas and skills
- Creates a supportive forum for learning and exchanging experiences
- Promotes collective thinking to identify and solve problems by pooling ideas and expertise.
Group discussions are extremely useful as a method of health education if they have a shared goal, and collective planning and implementation of subsequent actions. Box 2.1 gives some steps for facilitating an effective discussion group.
Box 2.1 Steps for effective group discussions
- Better results are achieved if it is a small group. If the group is too large, the level of participation of each person will be low. Organise the group to enable full participation of all members.
- Begin your presentation with a clear starting point, an introduction, the general and specific objectives, and some useful discussion points to get the conversation going.
- Ensure that the discussion is purposeful, i.e. the discussion points are relevant and clear, people don't interrupt each other, and they keep to the agreed topic.
- The effectiveness of group discussions may be enriched or weakened by differences in the participants' backgrounds, e.g. in their cultures, geographical area, social and economic status, sex and age group. These differences can have a positive or negative influence on the outcome of the discussion, and you should be aware of this.
- Your role as facilitator is to motivate and encourage the participants to exchange ideas freely and reach a common decision.
- Conclude the discussion by summarising the outcomes, agreeing on next steps, and thanking everyone for their participation.