Information for MB ChB Students to participate in a focus group

An evidence-based approach to addressing digital competency in primary medical degree curricula


REFERENCE: D23/042 DATE: 24th February 2024

Thank you for showing an interest in this project. Please read this information sheet carefully before deciding whether to participate. If you decide to participate, we thank you. If you decide not to take part, there will be no disadvantage to you, and we thank you for considering our

Research Background and Aim

Digital technologies are becoming increasingly prevalent in health care. For future doctors to effectively promote and improve health care they will need to have the knowledge skills and attitudes to operate digital technologies securely and accurately. This is also the expectation from employers, government, regulators, and patients. This project is being undertaken as part of the requirements for Brett Sumner’s PhD. The project aims to identify how medical education can provide the opportunity for future doctors to learn how to become effective in a digital health care environment. It aims to address the research question: ‘what works for whom and in what context for medical students to acquire digital competence?’

Research Participants

We are looking to recruit approximately 15 MB ChB University of Otago students and recent graduates to participate in several focus groups during 2023. The meetings will be on Zoom, and each will consist of around 5 participants plus the facilitator(s). We welcome participants
who have learned of this study from their peers. Each participant will receive a $30 supermarket voucher for taking part. No prior knowledge of digital health is required to participate.

As a current medical student or recent graduate from the University of Otago, we would like to hear your thoughts on what educational interventions might work better than others to develop competencies that lead to the effective utilisation of digital health care.

Your participation is voluntary, and you can leave the project at any time without any disadvantage to yourself. We do not expect there to be any adverse effects due to participating in this research.

What will Participants be asked to do?

Should you agree to take part in this project, you will be invited to a Zoom focus group meeting consisting of around five participants plus the facilitator(s). The meeting will take about one hour and aims to explore the group’s thoughts on the various educational interventions and resources and how some of these might work better than others to develop digital health competencies within the classroom and clinical contexts. The facilitators will be looking to capture as much student input as possible through brainstorming ideas and discussion around the resources, mechanisms and contexts needed to achieve the desired educational outcomes. There is no requirement for prior knowledge about digital health.

What Data or Information will be collected and what use will be made of it?

The data we will collect includes the following:

  • Zoom meeting video recordings of the focus groups.
  • Basic demographic data from you for the sole purpose of describing the group in general terms including your year in programme, gender, and ethnicity.
  • Your name and email address to contact you to attend a subsequent focus group meeting (should you agree).

Your Zoom username will be visible to others in the meeting and the video recording, however, this will not be used for reporting and your anonymity will be maintained wherever possible.

The video-recorded Zoom meeting will be stored securely with only the student researcher and supervisors having access to it.

The focus group meetings will involve open questions and prompts from one or more facilitators. The precise nature of the questions that will be asked cannot be determined in advance and will depend on how the focus group meeting develops. Consequently, although the Department of Medicine is aware of the general areas to be explored in the interview, the precise questions to be used cannot be reviewed. If the line of questioning develops in a way that you feel hesitant or uncomfortable you are reminded of your right to decline to answer any question(s).

The results of the project may be published and will be available in the University of Otago Library (Dunedin, New Zealand) but every attempt will be made to preserve your anonymity.

Can Participants change their minds and withdraw from the project?

You may withdraw from the project, before its completion (Feb 2024) and without any disadvantage to yourself. We will endeavour to remove any of your contributions to the focus group discussion(s) although this may not be entirely possible due to the group nature of data collection, however, your participation at the meeting will be recorded and retained as described above.

To sign up for the focus groups please complete the electronic Participation Consent Form

What if Participants have any Questions?

Some of your questions might be answered in the FAQ, alternatively, if you still have questions about our project, either now or in the future, please feel free to contact either:

Brett Sumner
Department of Medicine (UOW)
University of Otago

Rebecca Grainger
Department of Medicine (UOW)
University of Otago
Telephone: +64 4 832 3078