• complex problems;
  • mental health nursing;
  • mixed methods research;
  • psychiatric nursing;
  • purpose statement;
  • research design

Accessible summary

  • • 
    This paper contributes to better understanding of mixed methods application in mental health nursing and should therefore be of interest for researchers and mental health nurses involved in designing and conducting mixed methods research.
  • • 
    Few mental health nurses use the term ‘mixed methods’ in the titles of their research. This paper helps to clarify the ways in which mental health researchers and nurses design and title mixed methods studies.
  • • 
    This paper gives an outline of the types of mixed methods studies which can be designed to aid in the understanding of complex mental health problems.


Mixed methods research is becoming more widely used in order to answer research questions and to investigate research problems in mental health and psychiatric nursing. However, two separate literature searches, one in Scotland and one in the USA, revealed that few mental health nursing studies identified mixed methods research in their titles. Many studies used the term ‘embedded’ but few studies identified in the literature were mixed methods embedded studies. The history, philosophical underpinnings, definition, types of mixed methods research and associated pragmatism are discussed, as well as the need for mixed methods research. Examples of mental health nursing mixed methods research are used to illustrate the different types of mixed methods: convergent parallel, embedded, explanatory and exploratory in their sequential and concurrent combinations. Implementing mixed methods research is also discussed briefly and the problem of identifying mixed methods research in mental and psychiatric nursing are discussed with some possible solutions to the problem proposed.