Searching for rigour in the reporting of mixed methods population health research: a methodological review
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The environments in which population health interventions occur shape both their implementation and outcomes. Hence, when evaluating these interventions, we must explore both intervention content and context. Mixed methods (integrating quantitative and qualitative methods) provide this opportunity. However, although criteria exist for establishing rigour in quantitative and qualitative research, there is poor consensus regarding rigour in mixed methods. Using the empirical example of school-based obesity interventions, this methodological review examined how mixed methods have been used and reported, and how rigour has been addressed. Twenty-three peer-reviewed mixed methods studies were identified through a systematic search of five databases and appraised using the guidelines for Good Reporting of a Mixed Methods Study. In general, more detailed description of data collection and analysis, integration, inferences and justifying the use of mixed methods is needed. Additionally, improved reporting of methodological rigour is required. This review calls for increased discussion of practical techniques for establishing rigour in mixed methods research, beyond those for quantitative and qualitative criteria individually. A guide for reporting mixed methods research in population health should be developed to improve the reporting quality of mixed methods studies. Through improved reporting, mixed methods can provide strong evidence to inform policy and practice.
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