Towards the use of mixed methods inquiry as best practice in health outcomes research Regnault, Antoine; Willgoss, Tom; Barbic, Skye
Mixed methods research (MMR) has found an increased interest in the field of health outcomes research. Consideration for both qualitative and quantitative perspectives has become key to contextualising patient experiences in a clinically meaningful measurement framework. The purpose of this paper is to outline a process for incorporating MMR in health outcomes research to guide stakeholders in their understanding of the essence of mixed methods inquiry. In addition, this paper will outline the benefits and challenges of MMR and describe the types of support needed for designing and conducting robust MMR measurement studies. MMR involves the application of a well-defined and pre-specified research design that articulates purposely and prospectively, qualitative and quantitative components to generate an integrated set of evidence addressing a single research question. Various methodological design options are possible depending on the research question. MMR designs allow a research question to be studied thoroughly from different perspectives. When applied, it allows the strengths of one approach to complement the restrictions of another. Among other applications, MMR can be used to enhance the creation of conceptual models and development of new instruments, to interpret the meaningfulness of outcomes in a clinical study from the patient perspective, and inform health care policy. Robust MMR requires research teams with experience in both qualitative and quantitative research. Moreover, a thorough understanding of the underlying principles of MMR is recommended at the point of study conception all the way through to implementation and knowledge dissemination. The framework outlined in this paper is designed to encourage health outcomes researchers to apply MMR to their research and to facilitate innovative, patient-centred methodological solutions to address the complex challenges of the field.
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