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Using Both Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

Benefits of using mixed methods research

Many research studies adopt mixed methods approaches in their study designs that employ both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods are concerned with collection and analysis of data (numbers) using statistical tests. On the other hand, qualitative methods are concerned with collection and analysis of data in form of words. The use of mixed methods approach in studies helps to combine the strong points of the two methods into one study (Chow, Quine & Li, 2010). This makes the study so powerful and reliable. The combined methods approach also enables the researcher to apply methods that complement each other. In such instances, the disadvantages of a method are cancelled out by the advantages of the other method (Chow et al., 2010). Researchers use both quantitative and qualitative methods in one study to help them address many research issues simultaneously. This is not possible when using one research method.

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Selected situation for applying both qualitative and quantitative methods

The situation is: Assessing satisfaction among HIV patients who visit outpatient settings of a hospital. The study could use two arms. One arm could involve the use of a survey in which respondents could fill some parameters that could guide in explaining their satisfaction levels at the ambulatory settings. The other arm could involve the use of personal interviews to determine whether the respondents are satisfied or not. The methods could complement each other in data collection, analysis and interpretation. The second arm using the qualitative method could provide an explanation for the results obtained in the first arm involving the use of the quantitative method. The combined methods approach could also increase the levels of investigation to obtain solutions that are more honest and precise than those obtained through the use of one research method (Östlund, Kidd, Wengström & Rowa-Dewar, 2011). The use of the combined methods approach could help nurses, and other healthcare personnel understand the in-depth reasons for the HIV patients’ satisfaction.

How the data would complement one another

Qualitative methods use data in form of words to draw conclusions on the phenomena under study while quantitative methods use data in form of numbers. Qualitative data collected through the use of in-depth interviews would complement the statistical data obtained through the use quantitative survey. The qualitative method could complement the data in the quantitative method by providing explanation for the statistical results (Östlund et al., 2011)

Challenges of mixed methods

One of the challenges associated with the mixed methods approach in research is quantification of qualitative data. Qualitative data are coded so that they can be linked to set parameters in the quantitative analysis. If the codes are changed, there is a problem of rigidity, meaning that the association of the qualitative data with the quantitative data will not be perfect. This challenge could be avoided by the use of qualitative codes that will not change during data collection and analysis (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009).

The other challenge that is associated with mixed methods approach is collinearity problem attributed to qualitative data (Onwuegbuzie et al., 2009). This problem could lead researchers to result to using small sample sizes that could not produce powerful results for statistical conclusions. This challenge could be avoided by isolating dichotomized codes obtained from open-ended questions.

References

Chow, M. Y. K., Quine, S., & Li, M. (2010). The benefits of using a mixed methods approach–quantitative with qualitative–to identify client satisfaction and unmet needs in an HIV healthcare centre. AIDS care, 22(4), 491-498.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Johnson, R. B., & Collins, K. M. (2009). Call for mixed analysis: A philosophical framework for combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. International journal of multiple research approaches, 3(2), 114-139.

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Östlund, U., Kidd, L., Wengström, Y., & Rowa-Dewar, N. (2011). Combining qualitative and quantitative research within mixed method research designs: A methodological review. International journal of nursing studies, 48(3), 369-383.

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