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Keywords:

  • Qualitative research;
  • survey;
  • sampling;
  • focus groups;
  • biostatistical methods;
  • epidemiology;
  • program evaluation;
  • research methodology

Abstract

Mixed methods research offers powerful tools for investigating complex processes and systems in health and health care. This article describes integration principles and practices at three levels in mixed methods research and provides illustrative examples. Integration at the study design level occurs through three basic mixed method designs—exploratory sequential, explanatory sequential, and convergent—and through four advanced frameworks—multistage, intervention, case study, and participatory. Integration at the methods level occurs through four approaches. In connecting, one database links to the other through sampling. With building, one database informs the data collection approach of the other. When merging, the two databases are brought together for analysis. With embedding, data collection and analysis link at multiple points. Integration at the interpretation and reporting level occurs through narrative, data transformation, and joint display. The fit of integration describes the extent the qualitative and quantitative findings cohere. Understanding these principles and practices of integration can help health services researchers leverage the strengths of mixed methods.