MRA enlisted several researchers attending the Corporate Researchers Conference in Dallas last week to report back summaries & insights from the conference sessions.  This report is on “Using Predictive Analytics to Solve the Focus Group Dilemma” by  Ahmad Naim, M.D. , Associate Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research at Janssen Scientific Affairs (Johnson & Johnson) and  Jan Gollins, Principal & Founder at Delta Modelling Group.

The pair opened their presentation with a video of Kurt Vonnegut describing the shape of stories that illustrates the mathematical trace of emotion in stories, which relates to Moment to Moment (MTM) Affect Trace methodology.

Ahmad and Gollins’ presentation described how statistical methods, like cluster analysis and multiple discriminant analysis, can be used to quantitatively and qualitatively synthesize multiple MTM traces related to the same stimuli.  The example showed how snippets of audio from focus groups could be played for study participants, who then trace on-line  their emotional response (agree to disagree) to the audio.  Grouping the traces by demographic and attitude segments resulted in identifying points in the audio (particular statements) that triggered extreme response from the segments and differences among segments.  Tying those points back to the text provided clues to the respondents’ level of agreement or disagreement with particular sentiment expressed in the focus group audio.

The example tested the value of using this approach with highly sensitive topics (this one related to a challenging medical condition) as a way to preserve privacy and comfort in expressing their sentiment openly.  In this case, the findings led to clearer understanding of the sentiments of patients as they traverse the staged of this condition and to changes in how the medical community addresses these patients.  The approach is very intriguing to gather and understand sentiment on very sensitive topics.

Jan Gollins, Delta Modelling Group