Table 1

Types of mixed methods designs*

Mixed method typeResearch processesExamples
Explanatory sequentialQuantitative data are collected and analysed first, then qualitative data are collected and analysed to help explain quantitative data
QUAN →  QUAL
AIM: Identify levels of stress among new graduate registered nurses (RNs) working in emergency room (ER) settings
QUAN: National survey of new RNs working in ER settings measuring levels of workplace stress
QUAL: Personal interviews with 15–20 new RNs working in ER settings to discuss their experiences with stressful workplace situations
SYNTHESIS: Sequential
QUAL data help explain QUAN data
Exploratory sequentialQualitative data are collected and analysed first, then quantitative data are collected and used to test findings empirically
QUAL →   QUAN
AIM: Identify highest sources of workplace stress for new RNs working in hospital ERs
QUAL: Focus group data collected from newly registered RNs working in hospital ERs within a local area health service to discuss workplace stress
QUAN: QUAL data used to create a national survey administered to all RNs working in ERs about sources of workplace stress experienced within their first year of practice
SYNTHESIS: Sequential
QUAL data inform collection of QUAN data, which verify QUAL data
ParallelQualitative and quantitative data collected and analysed concurrently
QUAL + QUAN
AIM: Identify sources of stress for RNs working in ER settings, personal coping strategies used and types of programmes or support systems provided by hospitals
QUAN: National survey of all RNs working in ER departments, based on the literature, to identify common sources of stress and methods of support used by employers to reduce RN stress
QUAL: Focus groups and interviews with a random selection of RNs working in ERs to broaden understanding of different sources of stress and personal coping strategies used
SYNTHESIS: Data integration during interpretation phase after QUAN and QUAL data analyses
NestedCan be either QUAL or QUAN main design with the alternative paradigm embedded within the study to answer a complementary question
QUAL + quan or
QUAN + qual
AIM: Test an online peer support programme designed to reduce workplace stress for new RNs working in ERs
QUAN: RCT to test online programme effect on stress levels and intention to remain working in the ER
qual: Interview nested in the RCT, focused on user experiences of the online programme
SYNTHESIS: qual analysis embedded within the main QUAN study
  • *Table adapted from Halcomb and Hickman.7

  • QUAN, quantitative; QUAL, qualitative.