For interviews, handwritten notes were summarized in electronic format shortly after the interviews, using audiotapes as backup to written notes as necessary. The team sent a copy of the interview notes to interviewees for correction of any factual errors. In addition, the team sent follow-up questions to state adoption program managers to clarify certain information and fill in any gaps.
For focus groups, written notes were summarized immediately after each group using a debriefing form and audiotapes. The debriefing form captured illustrative participant quotes on specific topics, facilitators subjective impressions of emerging themes, and comments on group dynamics that were relevant to data interpretation.
The team entered interview and focus group notes into a database using a qualitative software package. Although the original intent was to develop a hierarchical coding structure to categorize text according to participant characteristic and topic, the team determined that the data could be managed and accessed effectively without further coding. The study team prepared a series of matrices to summarize data on key topics. These matrices assisted in reducing large volumes of qualitative data to a level at which patterns could be identified.