Using a mixed-methods approach to identify health concerns in an African American community

Am J Public Health. 2011 Nov;101(11):2087-92. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.191775. Epub 2011 Feb 17.


Objectives: We used qualitative and quantitative data collection methods to identify the health concerns of African American residents in an urban community and analyzed the extent to which there were consistencies across methods in the concerns identified.

Methods: We completed 9 focus groups with 51 residents, 27 key informant interviews, and 201 community health surveys with a random sample of community residents to identify the health issues participants considered of greatest importance. We then compared the issues identified through these methods.

Results: Focus group participants and key informants gave priority to cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but most respondents in the community health survey indicated that sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and obesity were conditions in need of intervention. How respondents ranked their concerns varied in the qualitative versus the quantitative methods.

Conclusions: Using qualitative and quantitative approaches simultaneously is useful in determining community health concerns. Although quantitative approaches yield concrete evidence of community needs, qualitative approaches provide a context for how these issues can be addressed. Researchers should develop creative ways to address multiple issues that arise when using a mixed-methods approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Community-Based Participatory Research / organization & administration*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Philadelphia
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Urban Population*
  • Violence / ethnology
  • Violence / psychology