• statistics;
  • data analysis;
  • linear models;
  • survival analysis;
  • complex data;
  • residual heterogeneity

This paper argues that quantitative methods are under-used in nursing research. Although this is often because the qualitative approach is the most appropriate, it may also be because nurse researchers are not fully aware of modern, sophisticated data analysis techniques and have tended to use simple statistical techniques that often make the quantitative analysis of complex data very difficult and produce simplistic and unsatisfactory answers. The paper briefly discusses probability and survival modelling techniques suitable for use in complex nursing research situations and argues that these methods may help to bridge the qualitative–quantitative gap. Although these techniques are mathematically complex, they are easily applied in practice using dedicated computer programs. The paper describes their application using one such program, GLIM 4.