Focus groups can be used to explore sensitive topics and have been found to increase the likelihood and depth of disclosure of personal and sensitive information in comparison to individual interviews. This article focuses on how people make self-disclosures in group research settings, specifically self-disclosure of depression. Data was collected from twelve health panel groups, held in Somerset, England. Health panels are a focus group-based method where members of the public are brought together to discuss a variety of topics including sensitive ones. The topic discussed by the health panel was attitudes to help-seeking for stress and depression. In this paper I conceptualize two new types of discloser—which I term “announcers” and “confessors” and illustrate how normalizing language can facilitate disclosures. This study has important implications for focus group-based research and for health professionals who deal with stigmatized conditions such as depression.
Cite this paper
Coe, N. (2013) Announcers and confessors: How people self-disclose depression in health panels. Health, 5, 79-88. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.51011.
 Wilkinson, S. (1998) Focus groups in health research: Exploring the meanings of health and illness. Journal of Health Psychology, 3, 329-348.
 Krueger, R.A. and Casey, M.A. (2000) Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks.
 Kitzinger, J. (1995) Qualitative research: Introducing focus groups. British Medical Journal, 311, 299-302.
 Kitzinger, J. (2004) The methodology of focus groups: The importance of interaction between research participants. Sociology of Health and Illness, 16, 103-121.
 Lehoux P., Poland B. and Daudelin, G. (2006) Focus group research and “the patient’s view”. Social Science and Medicine, 63, 2091-2104.
 Williams, J.K. and Ayres, L. (2007) “I’m like you”: Establishing and protecting a common ground in focus groups with Huntington disease care-givers. Journal of Research in Nursing, 12, 655.
 Edmunds, H. (1999) The focus group research handbook. NTC Business Books, Chicago, 7-8.
 Frey, J.H. and Fontana, A. (1993) The group interview in social research. In: Morgan, D.L., Ed., Successful Focus Groups: Advancing the State of the Art. Sage, Newbury Park.
 Hyden, L.-C. and Bulow, P.H. (2003) Who’s talking: Drawing conclusions from focus groups-some methodological considerations. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 6, 305-321.
 Frith, H. (2000) Fo-cusing on sex: Using focus groups in sex research. Sexualities, 3, 275-297.
 Wilkinson, C.E., Rees, C.E. and Knight, L.V. (2007) From the heart of my bottom: Negotiating humor in focus group discussions. Qualitative Health Research, 17, 411- 422. doi:10.1177/1049732306298375
 Hollander, J.A. (2004) The Social Contexts of Focus Groups. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 33, 602- 637. doi:10.1177/0891241604266988
 Morgan, D.L. (1995) Why things (sometimes) go wrong in focus groups. Qualitative Health Research, 5, 516-523.
 Morgan, D.L. (1997) Focus groups as qualitative research. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks.
 Greenbaum, T.L. (2000) Moderating focus groups: A practical guide for group facilitation. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks, 37-38.
 Aronson, E., Ellsworth, P.C., Carlsmith, J.M. and Gonzales, M.H. (1990) Methods of research in social psychology. McGraw-Hill, Ne-wYork.
 Goffman, E., (1959) The presentation of self in everyday life. Doubleday Anchor, New York.
 Coe, N. (2012) Health panels: The development of a meaningful method of public involvement. Policy Studies, 33, 263-281. doi:10.1080/01442872.2012.694267
 Bowie, C., Richardson, A. and Sykes, W. (1995) Consulting the public about health service priorities. British Medical Journal, 311, 1155-1158.
 Department of Health (2008) Real involvement: Working with people to improve health services. Crown Copyright, London.
 Lee, R.M. (1993) Doing research on sensitive topics. Sage publications Ltd., London.
 Lee, R.M. and Renzetti, C.M. (1993) The problems of researching sensitive topics. In Renzetti, C.M. and Lee, R.M., Eds., Researching sensitive topics. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks.
 Schulze, B. and Angermeyer, M.C. (2003) Subjective experiences of stigma. A focus group study of schizophrenic patients, their relatives and mental health professionals. Social Science & Medicine, 56, 299-312.
 Bruner, D.W. and Boyd, C.P. (1999) Assessing women’s sexuality after cancer therapy: Checking assumptions with the focus group technique. Cancer Nursing, 22, 438- 447. doi:10.1097/00002820-199912000-00007
 Coe, N. (2009) Exploring attitudes of the general public to stress, depression and help seeking. Journal of Public Mental Health, 8, 21-31.
 Department of Health (2003) Attitudes to mental illness 2003 report. Crown Copyright, London.
 Oliver, M.A., Pearson, N., Coe, N. and Gunnell, D. (2005) Help seeking behaviour in men and women with common mental health problems: Cross-sectional study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 186, 297-301.
 Bellamy, J. and Purvis, J. (2001) The somerset health panels: Report of the 20th round of panels held in April/May 2001. Somerset Health Authority Internal Report.
 Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in Psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
 Dindia, K. and Allen, M. (1992) Sex differences in self-disclosure: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 106-124. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.106
 Krueger, R.A. (1998) Moderating focus groups. In Krueger, R.A. and Morgan, D.L. The focus group kit. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks.
 Ajzen, I. (1991) The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T
 Markova, I., Linell, P., Grossen, M. and Orvig, A.S. (2007) Dialogue in focus groups: Exploring socially shared knowledge. Equinox Publishing Limited, London.
 Bakhtin M.M. (1981) The dialogic imagination. In: Emerson, C. and Holquist, M., Trans., University of Texas Press, Austin.
 Morgan, D.L. (2010) Reconsidering the role of interaction in analyzing and reporting focus groups. Qualitative Health Research, 20, 718-722.
 Kessler, D., McGonagle, K.A., Zhao, S., Nelson, B., Hughes, M., Eshleman, S., Wittchen, H.U. and Kendler, K.S. (1994) Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM- III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States. Results from the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 8-19.
 Vogel, D.L., Wade, N.G., Wester, S.R., Larson, L. and Hackler, A.H. (2007) Seeking help from a mental health professional: The influence of one’s social network. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63, 233-245.