Mixed methods research: The issues beyond combining methods
The number of manuscripts published in nursing journals described as "mixed methods" has risen steadily in recent years (Lipscomb, 2008; Simons & Lathlean, 2010). Mixed methods research refers to research which integrates both qualitative and quantitative elements in a single study (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011; Wisdom, Cavaleri, Onwuegbuzie, & Green, 2012). This is beyond simply the inclusion of open‐ended questions in a survey tool or the collection of demographic data from interview participants, but rather involves the explicit integration of qualitative and quantitative elements in a single study. It is this integration that characterizes the mixed methods approach, as distinct from a "combined approach" whereby qualitative and quantitative elements are used together but not integrated. While the paradigmatic debate of whether qualitative and quantitative elements can be combined has been largely overcome, there remains several issues around the quality of mixed methods research that need to be addressed.