Using mixed methods in health services research: A review of the literature and case study

Research article published on Pubmed. September 21, 2020

AUTHORS: Maarten de Haan, Yvonne van Eijk-Hustings, Hubertus Jm Vrijhoef.


Objective: To provide an overview of the challenges of conducting mixed methods research (MMR) in the context of health services research (HSR) and to discuss a case study example of the triangulation procedures used in a MMR study on task-shifting in the Netherlands.

Method: A narrative literature review of publications between January 2000 and February 2020 on the use of mixed methods in the context of HSR and a description of the triangulation procedures in an HSR study with a MMR design on task shifting in the Netherlands.

Results: The narrative review identified eight challenges. Those related to publishing and appraisal of MMR within HSR were most frequently reported (e.g. ‘lack of MMR examples’, ‘lack of recognition’ and ‘triangulation issues’). Also, practical problems for conducting MMR within HSR were identified (e.g. ‘lack or resources’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘lack of quality criteria’). Methodological challenges (e.g. ‘sampling’ and ‘paradigm wars’) were less frequently reported as a challenge.

Conclusion: While increasing in popularity, there remain a range of challenges for the design, conduct and reporting of MMR designs in HSR. Using a triangulation protocol can potentially help address some of these challenges.

Keywords: health services research; mixed methods; triangulation.

Keywords: mixed methods, health services research, review literature, case study, vrijhoef