Data from secondary sources can help identify and map health systems, but does not adequately describe them or the variation that exists within and across systems. A mixed-methods approach provides granular qualitative data enabling researchers to describe multi-layered health systems, grasp the context in which they operate, and identify the key drivers of performance.
Our Focus: Supporting Qualitative and Mixed Methods
Qualitative and mixed methods are ubiquitous at RAND, as they allow researchers to develop formative understandings of processes and to link these understandings with quantitative data collection and analysis. We encourage the use of — and innovations in — the following areas:
Mixed methods research integrates, or “mixes,” quantitative and qualitative data within a single investigation or sustained program of inquiry. Such integration permits a more complete and complementary use of data than would be the case for separate quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis.
Interviews and Focus Groups
Interviews may be semi-structured or exploratory and are generally conducted one-on-one; focus groups are interviews involving a number of individuals at once, sometimes with the goal of finding consensus. Expert elicitation may take place in person or online and often has the goal of developing an expert consensus.
Community-based Participatory Research
Community-based participatory research is a partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, researchers, and others in all aspects of the research process, with all partners in the process contributing expertise and sharing in decision-making and ownership.
It includes such activities as community meetings and workshops, field observation, and collaborative partnerships. In the process, researchers may develop and analyze case studies.
Cultural and Social Network Analysis
Research on cultural and social networks includes cultural domain analysis, cultural consensus analysis, and egocentric network or personal network analysis.
Content analysis may involve anything from a small number of documents to large datasets pulled from social media. Researchers may use computational linguistics to analyze the content, or conduct a thematic analysis.
As a method, the literature review includes such elements as narrative or descriptive analysis, logic models, systematic reviews, and meta analysis.