Title: The benefits of mixed methods evaluation (Thursday 13:30-14:30)
Summary: How researchers evaluate services and interventions is shaped by the country they work in, their academic discipline, their field, their research paradigm and the decade they work in. These shape the questions considered to be important within an evaluation, the types of evaluation funded, the methods used, what is considered to be ‘good evaluation’ and the parts of evaluations published in high impact journals. In some countries and disciplines quantitative research has dominated evaluation, largely due to the dominance of certain research questions about size, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness (e.g. UK health research). Qualitative research has been used for decades within evaluation but a noticeable shift is occurring in some research communities: mixed methods evaluation – the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods in a single evaluation – is becoming an established approach amongst funding agencies, policy-makers and researchers. I will address why this shift has occurred in some research communities, the potential benefits of mixed methods evaluations and ways of maximising the value of this approach.
Alicia O’Cathain is professor in the Medical Care Research Unit in the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield, UK. Her methodological research interests are mixed methods and evaluation of new health services. Her most recent methodological research focuses on combining qualitative research and randomised controlled trials.