Tagged / research methodology

The importance of understanding mixed methods

Earlier this week ResearchGate alerted us that the paper ‘The Growing Importance of Mixed-Methods Research in Health‘ has been read 900 times on that platform [1].  This methods paper focuses on  the growing importance of mixed-methods research to a wide range of health disciplines ranging from nursing to epidemiology.

Mixed-methods approaches requires not only the skills of the individual quantitative and qualitative methods but also a skill set to bring two methods/datasets/findings together in the most appropriate way. Health researchers need to pay careful attention to the ‘best’ approach to designing, implementing, analysing, integrating both quantitative (number) and qualitative (word) information and writing this up in a way that enhances its applicability and broadens the evidence-based practice. This paper highlights the strengths and weaknesses of mixed-methods approaches as well as some of the common mistakes made by researchers applying mixed-methods for the first time.

Our team in the Centre for Midwifery & Women’s Health (CMWH) has written several other methods papers on the importance of mixed-methods research in community-based health studies [2-5].  We have, of course, conducted and published many mixed-methods studies over the past two decades [see for example 6-10].

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

 

 

References:

  1. Wasti, S. P., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Sathian, B., & Banerjee, I. (2022). The Growing Importance of Mixed-Methods Research in HealthNepal Journal of Epidemiology, 12(1), 1175–1178.
  2. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Wasti, S.P., Sathian, B. (2014) Mixed-methods approaches in health research in Nepal, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 4(5): 415-416.
  3. Mahato, P., Angell, C., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P. (2018) Using Mixed-methods Research in Health & Education in Nepal, Journal of Health Promotion 6: 45-8.
  4. Harvey, O., van Teijlingen, E., Parrish, M. (2022) Mixed-methods research on androgen abuse – a review, Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes 29(6):586-593.
  5. MacKenzie Bryers, H., van Teijlingen, E. Pitchforth, E. (2014) Advocating mixed-methods approaches in health research, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 4(5): 417-422. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/12018/9768
  6. Pitchforth, E, Watson, V, Tucker, J, Ryan, M, van Teijlingen E, Farmer, J, Ireland, J, Thomson, E, Kiger, A , Bryers, H. (2008) Models of intrapartum care and women’s trade-offs in remote and rural Scotland: A mixed-methods study BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 115(5): 560-569.
  7. Wasti, SP, Simkhada, P., Randall, J, van Teijlingen, E, Freeman, J. (2012) Factors influencing adherence to antiretroviral treatment in Nepal: a mixed-methods study. PLoS ONE 7(5): e35547. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035547.
  8. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Devkota, B., Pathak, RS, Sathian, B. (2014) Accessing research literature: A mixed-method study of academics in Higher Education Institutions in Nepal, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 4(4): 405-14.
  9. Dost, S., Arnold, R., van Teijlingen, E. (2023) Management capacity in the Afghan Ministry of Public Health pre-Taliban: A mixed-methods study of political and socio-cultural issues, Razi International Medical Journal, 3(1): 9–18
  10. Sharma, S., van Teijlingen, E, Hundley, V., Stephens J., Simkhada, P., Angell, C., Sicuri, E., Belizan, J.M. (2013) Mixed-methods evaluation of maternity care intervention in rural Nepal: measuring what works, Poster P.2.3.004(A), Tropical Medicine & International Health 18(Suppl. 1): 183-184.

Methods or Methodology?

Yesterday our latest methodological paper ‘Methods or Methodology: Terms That Are Too Often Confused’ appeared online. [1]  We recently published a methods paper outlining the difference between Methods and Methodology as so many postgraduate students manage to get it wrong or don’t understand the distinction between the two.  There is a distinct difference between methodology and methods in research. However, too many students, researchers, and authors of academic papers do not seem to pay attention to the crucial difference. This is true not only in education research but also in many other academic disciplines. In simple terms, the term methods refers to the research tools and techniques; for example, in the qualitative field, interviews are a tool to collect data, and in the quantitative field, a questionnaire-based survey is an example of a data collection tool. Methodology is a broader concept as it refers to the overall approach to the research, includes a justification for this approach, and links to research philosophy, i.e., how we produce knowledge. This methodological note aims to explain the confusion, drawing on examples from the published literature in education research and beyond. It also considers the complexities and crossovers. The final section ends with key advice to researchers and authors on key mistakes to avoid regarding the difference between methods and methodology, including covering this in early supervision discussions.

Our interdisciplinary team, based in the UK and Nepal, comprises Dr. Orlanda Harvey in BU’s Department of Sociology & Social Work, Dr. Pramod Regmi in BU’s Department of Nursing Science, Dr. Preeti Mahato from Royal Holloway, University of London, Dr. Shovita Dhakal Adhikari, London Metropolitan University, Dr. Rolina Dhital, based at Health Action & Research in Nepal and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen in BU’s Department of Midwifery & Health Sciences.  In addition it is worth mentioning that both Preeti and Shovita are both former member of staff in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences (FHSS) at BU.  Finally, although the official publication date is Sept 2023, it only appeared online yesterday.  This new methods paper is part of growing series of methods papers by members of this team of academics [2-12].

 

References:

  1. Harvey, O., Regmi, P. R., Mahato, P., Dhakal Adhikari, S., Dhital, R., van Teijlingen E. (2023) Methods or Methodology: Terms That Are Too Often Confused. Journal of Education & Research, 13(2): 94-105.
  2. Regmi, P.R., Waithaka, E., Paudyal, A., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2016) Guide to the design and application of online questionnaire surveys. Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 6(4): 640-644. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/17258
  3. Regmi, PR., Aryal, N., Kurmi, O., Pant, PR., van Teijlingen, E, Wasti, PP. (2017) Informed consent in health research: challenges and barriers in low-and middle-income countries with specific reference to Nepal, Developing World Bioethics 17(2):84-89.
  4. Mahato, P., Angell, C., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P.P. (2018) Using Mixed-methods Research in Health & Education in Nepal, Journal of Health Promotion Official Publication of Health Education Association of Nepal (HEAN), 6: 45-48.
  5. van Teijlingen, E., Regmi, P., Adhikary, P., Aryal, N., Simkhada, P. (2019). Interdisciplinary Research in Public Health: Not quite straightforward. Health Prospect, 18(1), 4-7. https://doi.org/10.3126/hprospect.v18i1.19337
  6. Dhakal Adhikari, S., van Teijlingen, E., Regmi,P., Mahato, P., Simkhada, B., Simkhada, P. (2020) The presentation of academic self in the digital age: the role of electronic databases, International Journal of Social Sciences & Management 7(1):38-41.
  7. Shanker, S., Wasti, S.P., Ireland, J., Regmi, P., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2021) The Interdisciplinary Team Not the Interdisciplinarist: Reflections on Interdisciplinary Research, Europasian Journal of Medical Sciences 3(2): 1-5. https://doi.org/10.46405/ejms.v3i2.317
  8. Arnold, R., Gordon, C., Way, S., Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2022) Why use Appreciative Inquiry? Lessons learned during COVID-19 in a UK maternity service, European Journal of Midwifery 6 (May): 1-7. https://doi.org/10.18332/ejm/147444
  9. Mahato, P., Tamang, P., Simkhada, B., Wasti, S. P., Devkota, B., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E.R. (2022) Reflections on health promotion fieldwork in Nepal: Trials and tribulations. Journal of Health Promotion 10(1): 5–12. https://doi.org/10.3126/jhp.v10i1.50978
  10. Khatiwada, S., Gautam, P., Koju, A., Niraula, B., Khanal, G., Sitaula, A., Lamichhane, J., Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E (2023). Patient and Public Engagement in Health Research: Learning from UK Ideas. Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences, 8(1): 28–35. https://doi.org/10.3126/jmmihs.v8i1.57268
  11. Thapa, R., Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E., Heaslip, V. (2023) Researching Dalits and health care: Considering positionality, Health Prospect 21(1): 6-8.
  12. Harvey, O., van Teijlingen, E., Parrish, M. (2024) Using a range of communication tools to interview a hard-to-reach population, Sociological Research Online 29(1): 221–232 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/13607804221142212

NIHR Be Part of Research platform

The NIHR Be Part of Research platform is an online service that makes it easy for research participants to find and take part in health and social care research. Participants may search for trials and studies taking place looking at certain health conditions and in locations accessible to them.

Clinical researchers may also make use of the service to extend their recruitment and widen their recruitment methods, as the platform has been designed to make it easier for researchers and potential study participants to find each other.

Using Be Part of Research to recruit participants

To use the service for your recruitment, the study must meet the following requirements:

  • Be funded or supported by the NIHR. This includes studies on the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio.
  • Have Research Ethics Committee approval to use the service as a recruitment tool.
  • Have a dedicated point of contact such as a pre-screener or website for interested volunteers to engage with your research team.

Getting your study onto the Be Part of Research platform

Once your study has been registered on either ISRCTNClinicalTrials.gov, or on the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS), your project will then appear on Be Part of Research. Given those visiting the site are mostly patients and members of the public, medical and scientific terminology should be omitted when writing your study summary, with plain English used to ensure the information is accessible to a broad audience. In order to do this, you should:
  • Keep it short – but don’t oversimplify it. The reader must understand what the study is trying to achieve.
  • Imagine you are talking to the reader.
  • Take out any jargon.
  • Make sure you cover the what, why, when, where and how so they have the basics of your study.

Additionally, to make sure that participants contact the appropriate person, the contact details provided on ISRCTN or ClinicalTrials.gov should be up to date and accurate. In general, the registry record should be monitored continuously so that any changes are reflected on Be Part of Research as soon as possible.

Further support/contact

If you have any questions regarding the platform or regarding clinical research in general, please email Suzy Wignall, Clinical Governance Advisor: swignall@bournemouth.ac.uk or clinicalresearch@bournemouth.ac.uk

Navigating the Maze of Research

Earlier this month Elsevier published the 6th Edition of ‘Navigating the Research Maze: enhancing nursing and midwifery practice‘.  Edited by Debra Jackson, Tamara Power and Helen Walthall, this book seeks to demystify some of the complexities in planning, conducting and reading research and draws on a wide range of research leaders from around the world as authors.  This book could be a useful addition to reading lists for students undertaking units focusing on research and evidence-based practice.

It was a pleasure to work on Chapter 6 (Navigating Ethics) with Andrea Donaldson from Massey University in New Zealand.  It was interesting to learn how research ethics is managed differently in different parts of the world but also reassuring to confirm that the underpinning ethical principles are the same wherever research is conducted.

Sometimes it can be hard to see how new editions of books have changed but in developing this edition efforts have been made to add useful resources for both students and lecturers.  Readers can access student challenges, quizzes, resource kits, Powerpoint slides, a test bank and teaching tips for each chapter.

Pilot studies paper reaches 90,000 reads

Today ResearchGate informed Prof. Vanora Hundley and I that our paper in the Nursing Standard of 2002 had reached 90,000 reads.  This short methods paper called ‘The Importance of Pilot Studies’ [1] was one of our earlier attempts, nearly two decades ago, to publish more of our work in practitioners journals.  This approach has been highly successful in terms of reaching a wider audience.  We have written longer, more sophisticated research methods papers on pilot studies over the years, including in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Social Research Update, and the SAGE encyclopedia on research methods [2-6], but none of these has been read or cited as often as our short paper in the Nursing Standard. 

The term ‘pilot studies’ refers to mini versions of a full-scale study (also called ‘feasibility’ studies), as well as the specific pre-testing of a particular research instrument such as a questionnaire or interview schedule. Pilot studies are a crucial element of good study design. Conducting a pilot study does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success. Pilot studies fulfill a range of important functions and can provide valuable insights for other researchers. There is a need for more discussion among researchers of both the process and outcomes of pilot studies.

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2002) ‘The importance of pilot studies’ Nursing Standard 16(40): 33-36. Web: nursing-standard.co.uk/archives/vol16-40/pdfs/vol16w40p3336.pdf
  2. van Teijlingen E, Rennie, AM., Hundley, V, Graham, W. (2001) The importance of conducting & reporting pilot studies: example of Scottish Births Survey, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34: 289-95.
  3. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2001) The importance of pilot studies, Social Research Update Issue 35, (Editor N. Gilbert), Guildford: University of Surrey. Web:  http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/sru/SRU35.html
  4. Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E. (2002) The role of pilot studies in midwifery research RCM Midwives Journal 5(11): 372-74
  5. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2005) Pilot studies in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(3): 219-21.
  6. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2003) Pilot study, In: Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 2, Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A. & Liao, T. (eds.), Oregon, Sage: 823-24.

Planning health promotion programmes: an Intervention Mapping approach

For those of you interested in health education, applied psychology or physical activity promotion, read on.

Last week I attended the annual Intervention Mapping course at Maastricht University, which provides a framework for decision-making when planning, conducting and evaluating complex interventions. As a physiologist and early career researcher the course introduced me to using a theory-led, systematic approach when devising multidisciplinary interventions. From my perspective, what to consider when planning an exercise/physical activity programme to improve mobility (and holistically quality of life) for frail older adults living in care home residences. Intervention Mapping comprises the following steps:

  1. Needs assessments (or logic model of the problem)
  2. Specifying the ‘change objectives’
  3. Programme design
  • themes and components
  • theory- and evidence-based methods for change
  • practical application
  1. Programme production
  2. Implementation plan
  3. Evaluation plan

It should be noted that this framework relates mainly to collaborative healthcare projects, involving multidisciplinary team-working with individuals that may include: behavioural scientists, physiologists, Allied health professionals, care home staff and council officials.

As a ‘cog in a wheel’ (i.e. physiologist working within healthcare teams), personally Intervention Mapping has influenced my methodological perspective and will inform my long-term research, but will have little impact in the short-term for laboratory-based studies. For the behavioural scientist or applied psychologist interested in health promotion, the course would be a great benefit. For everyone else considering healthcare projects incorporating behaviour change I wholeheartedly recommend. Plus, Maastricht is a cultural and gastronomical delight.

If you would like further information on the course and framework, let me know.

Dr James Gavin

Department of Sport and Physical Activity

Bournemouth University

Email: jgavin@bournemouth.ac.uk

Reporting back from the BSA Auto/Biography Christmas Conference!

“I say tomato, You say tomato”. Is Autoethnography Auto/Biography by any other name?

Prior to our holiday break, Dr Judith Chapman and Dr Sarah Collard presented their research at the recent British Sociological Association (BSA) Auto/Biography Conference in London. This was a novel presentation, not limited to following a power point, but involving discussions with one other and the audience about the differences between the two research methods of autoethnography and auto/biography.

As they recently presented on this topic at the Centre for Qualitative Research lunchtime seminar, Judith and Sarah felt warmed up for the conversation and debates that occurred when presenting and discussing the topic in front of an audience of methodological experts within this area! After each shared their own experiences of conducting either authethnography or auto/biography, they opened it up to the audience to debate the merits of the two methods. An exciting and interesting dialogue with the audience ensued, with the ethical considerations of each method being fervently discussed, as well as the challenges of deciding what can be classified as autoethnography or auto/biography. There was no lull in the exchange of views and conference members applauded the informative and interactive element of our presentation.

After our presentation, we were able to forge links with others at the conference and were requested to share our work even more! It was very exciting to be so well received and have such a positive response to the presentation. However, there was no overall consensus and we agreed to differ on the syllabic emphasis of “tomato”!

Impact, outcome and research methods – HSC PhD student on LSE Impact Blog

With working at a university and the rise of the REF, you would have almost certainly come across the terms ‘impact’ and ‘outcomes’. Whilst there might be a great deal of similarity and overlap in the use of these terms, it is important to discuss the sometime subtle differences between ‘impact’ and ‘outcome’. What consequences might this have for the design of social research?

The health and social care literature uses these terms in a rather haphazard manner. The differences are rarely discussed and it can be suggested that many use the wrong terminology. In this blog post on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog, relating to the field of information and advice on welfare issues, I briefly discuss and propose that there are fundamental differences between what an impact refers to and what an outcome refers to. Furthermore, I suggest that these differences are significant and profound enough to align each to opposing research methodologies.

These thoughts relate to the key areas of my PhD project with Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) in London. EAC coordinates the FirstStop service which provides information and advice to older people (and other stakeholders) on housing and care issues. My research is focused on how older people use information and advice on housing and the wider impact that this has.

If anyone has an interest in this area, do get in touch!