Focus groups provide an effective means of incorporating the perspectives of "hidden" populations in assessments of community health needs and assets. A series of focus groups was conducted with specifically targeted segments of a community to develop a comprehensive picture of community health. The authors describe the focus group process, major findings, and the use of focus group results in a highly multicultural community. Despite differences in age, length of residence, and ethnicity, the focus groups were remarkably similar in the issues raised. The majority of participants viewed the multicultural nature of the community as an asset but voiced some of the difficulties of living in a multiethnic and multilanguage environment. Similar areas of concern in the community arose from all of the focus groups, including housing and other environmental issues and problems of access to health care. Focus group findings have been used to initiate activity addressing identified community problems. Focus group participation had the added benefit of increasing community members' participation in other community endeavors.
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