Using mixed methods in health research

JRSM Short Rep. 2013 May 7;4(6):2042533313479197. doi: 10.1177/2042533313479197. Print 2013 Jun.


Mixed methods research is the use of quantitative and qualitative methods in a single study or series of studies. It is an emergent methodology which is increasingly used by health researchers, especially within health services research. There is a growing literature on the theory, design and critical appraisal of mixed methods research. However, there are few papers that summarize this methodological approach for health practitioners who wish to conduct or critically engage with mixed methods studies. The objective of this paper is to provide an accessible introduction to mixed methods for clinicians and researchers unfamiliar with this approach. We present a synthesis of key methodological literature on mixed methods research, with examples from our own work and that of others, to illustrate the practical applications of this approach within health research. We summarize definitions of mixed methods research, the value of this approach, key aspects of study design and analysis, and discuss the potential challenges of combining quantitative and qualitative methods and data. One of the key challenges within mixed methods research is the successful integration of quantitative and qualitative data during analysis and interpretation. However, the integration of different types of data can generate insights into a research question, resulting in enriched understanding of complex health research problems.