Many of the areas that we explore in health are complex. Researchers within Health Sciences are addressing these complexities by combining different methodological approaches, and producing and integrating different types of data. We work in interdisciplinary teams with researchers from across Warwick Medical School to answer research questions that span the boundary of ‘how many’, and ‘what’ or ‘why’.
The capability to use mixed methods appropriately has become vital for health-related research, whether undertaken as part of postgraduate study or within the healthcare setting. As leaders in mixed methods, we offer UK and international students the opportunity to participate in our 10 CAT specialist modules running in February and May each year.
Support with mixed methods research design
The Research Design Service West Midlands (RDS WM) offers expert advice on mixed methods research design. RDS WM is one of ten regional Research Design Services in England funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). Our primary aim is to help researchers in the West Midlands area who have a ‘good idea’ and want to turn that into a research proposal for submission to peer-reviewed funding programmes in applied health and social care. As well as mixed methods expertise we offer free advice and consultation on aspects of study design including: Qualitative methods, Quantitative methods, Statistics, Health economics, Systematic reviews and meta-analysis, Epidemiology, Clinical Trials, Health psychology, and Patient and Public Involvement
Mixed methods research is used to understand the nature, as well as the extent, of the ethical and social impacts of modern medicine. The Imagining Futures study, for example, used in-depth qualitative interviews to explore the perspectives of people living with genetic conditions, before converting this data into quantitative surveys that could measure attitudes towards different types of genetic screening programme within a much larger sample of affected families. Data from both the qualitative and quantitative phases of the study are now being jointly interpreted to understand relationships between experiences of genetic disease and perceptions of genetic screening.
Understanding how an intervention works, why it does not work and how it is experienced requires a mixed methods design, combining observation and interview data with data captured as part of a clinical trial, and publicly available data. The Chronic Headache Education and Self-management Study (CHESS) for example uses mixed methods to investigate whether a new education and self-management programme will help improve quality of life for people living with chronic headaches.
Economic evaluation draws on a broad range of quantitative and qualitative methods to support policy makers in making choices around the allocation of scarce health care resources. The Euripides project, for example, uses mixed methods to understand what investment might be required to improve patient experience data collection, and how services might benefit from doing so.
Many of the world’s poorest people live in slums, where they face a number of health issues and barriers to needed quality services. Our unit aims to make progress towards improving access to health care across seven slums in Africa and Asia. We are drawing on and mixing geospatial, quantitative and qualitative research methods in order to: map current health services and facilities and understand how these are used in our study sites; identify costs of health services and understand their quality; and generate viable options for health service delivery in slums and cost these options relative to likely benefits.
The Statistics and Epidemiology group focuses on the development and application of methodology for the assessment and evaluation of healthcare interventions and risk factors. We also focus on developing research on the health risks and impacts from environmental changes (e.g. heatwaves, cold weather), and developing a theoretical framework for understanding the relationships between schools and young people’s health.
Warwick Research in Nursing frequently uses mixed methods in research. We often want to know why an intervention works, why and when it does not work, and what it is like for those using the intervention. For example, the Improving the Wellbeing of People with Opioid Treated Chronic Pain (I-WOTCH) study (a randomised controlled trial led by Clinical Trials Unit) has developed a support programme that aims to improve the everyday functioning for people living with chronic (long-term) pain and reduce their opioid (strong morphine-like painkillers). We are leading a process evaluation, talking to people about what it’s like trying to reduce opioids, what works and what is a challenge.
The Unit of Academic Primary Care has a multidisciplinary team of primary care researchers with clinical, social science and behavioural science backgrounds and we apply mixed methods to address the important research questions facing primary care and general practice settings. As a setting primary care serves the whole population and requires an understanding of what works, and how it works, that can only be determined using a mixed methodological approach. Examples of current studies taking a mixed methods approach include ‘parkrun Practice: understanding implementation’ and ‘Investigating patient use and experience of online appointment booking in general practice'.