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Mixed-methods research in nursing - a critical review

Valentina Bressan, Annamaria Bagnasco, Giuseppe Aleo, Fiona Timmins, Michela Barisone, Monica Bianchi, Ramona Pellegrini, Loredana Sasso
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2017, 26 (19-20): 2878-2890
27805742

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To review the use of mixed-methods research in nursing with a particular focus on the extent to which current practice informs nurse researchers. It also aimed to highlight gaps in current knowledge, understanding and reporting of this type of research.

BACKGROUND: Mixed-methods research is becoming increasingly popular among nurses and healthcare professionals. Emergent findings from this type of research are very useful for nurses in practice. The combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods provides a scientific base for practice but also richness from the qualitative enquiry. However, at the same time mixed-methods research is underdeveloped.

METHODS: This study identified mixed-methods research papers and critically evaluated their usefulness for research practice. To support the analysis, we performed a two-stage search using CINAHL to find papers with titles that included the key term 'mixed method'.

CONCLUSION: An analysis of studies that used mixed-methods research revealed some inconsistencies in application and reporting. Attempts to use two distinct research methods in these studies often meant that one or both aspects had limitations. Overall methods were applied in a less rigorous way. This has implications for providing somewhat limited direction for novice researchers. There is also potential for application of evidence in healthcare practice that limited validity.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: This study highlights current gaps in knowledge, understanding and reporting of mixed-methods research. While these methods are useful to gain insight into clinical problems nurses lack guidance with this type of research. This study revealed that the guidance provided by current mixed-methods research is inconsistent and incomplete and this compounds the lack of available direction. There is an urgent need to develop robust guidelines for using mixed-methods research so that findings may be critically implemented in practice.

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