Inadequate justification for using mixed-methods and inadequate data integration compromises the rigor of mixed-methods studies, and data integration remains a challenge for nurse researchers.
The aim of the study was to determine the 5-year prevalence of mixed-methods research in nursing journals and to determine the extent of integration of qualitative and quantitative findings.
Ten journals were hand-searched, and additional search was conducted within three databases. Prevalence was calculated by counting the number of published mixed-methods studies divided by the number of published studies over 5 years. Three reviewers independently performed methodological assessment using a checklist based on guidelines by expert methodologists.
Prevalence of mixed-methods studies was 1.89%. Concerning methodological assessment, of 175 studies, 29% did not provide an explicit label of the study design and four studies incorrectly labeled the design. In total, 31% of the studies did not justify using mixed methods, 95% did not identify the research paradigm, and 78% did not state the weight given to individual phases. The extent of data integration was 73%, but 83% of studies integrated data using narrative summaries with integration occurring at the interpretation (69.8%). Few studies used joint displays (10.9%), transformation (3.1%), and triangulation (1.6%) for data integration.
Mixed-methods research is still in its infancy in nursing, and researchers encounter challenges during its conduct, analysis, and reporting. There is a need to determine researchers’ attitudes and challenges toward using mixed methods and educate them about advanced mixed methods. Emphasis should be placed on use of advanced data integration methods so that the rigor and quality of mixed research can be enhanced in nursing research.