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Mixed methods researchers use diverse philosophical positions (e.g.post-positivist and social constructivist worldviews, pragmatic perspectives and transformative perspectives) and often draw upon one or more theoretical frameworks from the social, behavioural or biological sciences to inform the study (Green 2007).
To select 10 best resources to highlight in this article, we first identified categories below (overview, design, examples and toolkit) to guide our selection, decided inclusion criteria and carried out searches in electronic databases.
The criteria included importance in the mixed methods research field (based on number of citations), comprehensiveness of content, usefulness to readers as well as relevance to public health and health systems research especially in LMIC contexts.
For individuals looking for a brief orientation to mixed methods research, ‘Mixed methods: a review of literature and the future of the new research paradigm’ by Migiro and Magangi (2011) provide a basic review.
The paper targets a social science researcher novice to mixed methods design, by laying out the strengths and weaknesses of the approach.
Mixed methods research is important in health systems because it allows researchers to view problems from multiple perspectives, contextualize information, develop a more complete understanding of a problem, triangulate results, quantify hard-to-measure constructs, provide illustrations of context for trends, examine processes/experiences along with outcomes and capture a macro picture of a system (Creswell and Plano Clark 2011).
A number of common characteristics between health systems (Hoffman 2011).While the quantitative components allow us to know the extent of the situation and understand how representative the findings are, qualitative studies can enhance the depth of our understandings by presenting various stakeholder perspectives and offer rationale for health systems performance.We present a selection of resources that could be helpful for readers who may be new to mixed methods research or may not have kept up to date with the literature.To provide researchers and programme managers with a guide to mixed methods research in understanding and evaluating health systems, we review the best resources in this area with a specific focus on application in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).The definition of mixed methods research has yet to be agreed upon among early developers (Leech 2010).We selected 10 best resources (eight peer-reviewed articles and two textbooks) based on their importance and frequency of use (number of citations), comprehensiveness of content, usefulness to readers and relevance to health systems research in resource-limited contexts.We start with an overview on mixed methods research and discuss resources that are useful for a better understanding of the design and conduct of mixed methods research.Mixed methods research is especially important in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings, where understanding social, economic and cultural contexts are essential to assess health systems performance.To provide researchers and programme managers with a guide to mixed methods research in health systems, we review the best resources with a focus on LMICs.At least 19 different versions have been provided by highly published researchers (Johnson 2007), mainly because of varying degrees of importance placed on the philosophy, methods and research designs.In essence, mixed methods studies intentionally integrate or combine quantitative and qualitative data to maximize the strengths of each, to answer questions that are inadequately answered by one approach.