This talk will outline some of the challenges of mixed methods research and illustrate how they can be addressed in health psychology and other health research. I will critically reflect on mixed methods research that I have conducted and discuss the philosophical and technical challenges of mixed methods, grounding the discussion in a brief review of methodological literature.
Mixed methods research is characterized as having philosophical and technical challenges; the former can be addressed by drawing on pragmatism, the latter by considering formal mixed methods research designs proposed in a number of design typologies. There are important differences among the design typologies which provide diverse examples of designs that health researchers can adapt for their own mixed methods research. There are also similarities; in particular, many typologies explicitly orient to the technical challenges of deciding on the respective timing of qualitative and quantitative methods and the relative emphasis placed on each method. Characteristics, strengths, and limitations of different sequential and concurrent designs are identified by reviewing a series of mixed methods projects each conducted for a different purpose.
Adapting formal mixed methods designs can help health psychologists and other health researchers address the technical challenges of mixed methods research and identify the approach that best fits the research questions and purpose. This does not obfuscate the need to address philosophical challenges of mixing qualitative and quantitative methods.
Dr Felicity Bishop is a health psychologist leading an interdisciplinary programme of mixed methods research around complementary therapies and placebo effects in health care within Psychology at the University of Southampton.