Methodological triangulation: an approach to understanding data

Nurse Res. 2012;20(2):40-3. doi: 10.7748/nr2012.


Aim: To describe the use of methodological triangulation in a study of how people who had moved to retirement communities were adjusting.

Background: Methodological triangulation involves using more than one kind of method to study a phenomenon. It has been found to be beneficial in providing confirmation of findings, more comprehensive data, increased validity and enhanced understanding of studied phenomena. While many researchers have used this well-established technique, there are few published examples of its use.

Data sources: The authors used methodological triangulation in their study of people who had moved to retirement communities in Ohio, US.

Review methods: A blended qualitative and quantitative approach was used.

Discussion: The collected qualitative data complemented and clarified the quantitative findings by helping to identify common themes. Qualitative data also helped in understanding interventions for promoting 'pulling' factors and for overcoming 'pushing' factors of participants. The authors used focused research questions to reflect the research's purpose and four evaluative criteria--'truth value', 'applicability', 'consistency' and 'neutrality'--to ensure rigour.

Conclusion: This paper provides an example of how methodological triangulation can be used in nursing research. It identifies challenges associated with methodological triangulation, recommends strategies for overcoming them, provides a rationale for using triangulation and explains how to maintain rigour.

Implications for research/practice: Methodological triangulation can be used to enhance the analysis and the interpretation of findings. As data are drawn from multiple sources, it broadens the researcher's insight into the different issues underlying the phenomena being studied.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Retirement