Using mixed methods to identify and answer clinically relevant research questions

Qual Health Res. 2015 Jun;25(6):845-56. doi: 10.1177/1049732315580107. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


The need for mixed methods research in answering health care questions is becoming increasingly recognized because of the complexity of factors that affect health outcomes. In this article, we argue for the value of using a qualitatively driven mixed method approach for identifying and answering clinically relevant research questions. This argument is illustrated by findings from a study on the self-management practices of cancer survivors and the exploration of one particular clinically relevant finding about higher uptake of self-management in cancer survivors who had received chemotherapy treatment compared with those who have not. A cross-sectional study generated findings that formed the basis for the qualitative study, by informing the purposive sampling strategy and generating new qualitative research questions. Using a quantitative research component to supplement a qualitative study can enhance the generalizability and clinical relevance of the findings and produce detailed, contextualized, and rich answers to research questions that would be unachievable through quantitative or qualitative methods alone.

Keywords: cancer; illness and disease, chronic; interviews; qualitative; research design; research, mixed methods; self-care; survivorship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making
  • England
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design*
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult