The state of mixed methods research in nursing: a focused mapping review and synthesis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Maria T. Clark
  • Oliver R. Herber
  • Fiona Howroyd
  • Lesley Gratrix
  • Aile Trumm
  • Tove A. Hanssen

Colleges, School and Institutes


Aims: To consider the scope and quality of mixed methods research in nursing.

Design: Focused mapping review and synthesis.

Data sources: Five purposively selected journals: International Journal of Nursing Studies, Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Worldviews on Evidence Based Nursing, and Journal of Mixed Methods Research.

Review methods: Within the target journals, titles and abstracts from papers published between 2015 and 2018 were searched for the words or derivative words ‘mixed methods’. Additional keyword searches were undertaken using each journal’s search tool. We included studies that investigated nursing and reported to use a mixed methods approach. Articles that met the inclusion criteria were read in full and information was extracted onto a predetermined proforma. Findings across journals were then synthesised to illustrate the current state of mixed methods research in nursing.

Results: We located 34 articles that reported on mixed methods research, conducted across 18 countries. Articles differed significantly both within and across journals in terms of conformity to a mixed methods approach. We assessed the studies for the quality of their reporting as regards the use of mixed methods. Nineteen studies were rated as satisfactory or good, with 15 rated as poorly described. Primarily, a poor rating was due to the absence of stating an underpinning methodological approach to the study and/or limited detail of a crucial integration phase.

Conclusions: Our focused mapping review and synthesis revealed a paucity of published MMR in the journals selected. When they are published there are limitations in the detail given to the underpinning methodological approach and theoretical explanation.

Impact: This review provides best practice guidance in conducting and reporting mixed methods nursing research and will help to ensure that nurses’ endeavour in mixed methods research is
of the highest quality.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Early online date8 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2020


  • focus mapping review and synthesis, mixed methods, nursing, research