The overarching goal of this proposal entitled, "Mixed Methods Research Training Program for the Health Sciences" is to provide a state-of-the-art methodology training program to enhance the mixed methods skills of investigators (in response to RFA-OD-13-009). Mixed methods research is defined as the collection, analysis, and integration of both quantitative (e.g., RCT outcome) data and qualitative (e.g., observations, interviews) data to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a research problem than might be obtained through either alone. Public health researchers are increasingly using mixed methods approaches without substantive training in the latest scientific techniques. Yet, an increase in proposals submitted to NIH using mixed methods reflects the growing awareness of the importance of this approach in addressing population and behavioral health. The proposal is timely in that NIH (OBSSR) issued "best practices" recommendations in 2011. No other national program in mixed methods education and mentorship exists for the health sciences.
The specific aims of this training program are: (1) to identify and recruit investigators (called Scholars) using mixed methods approaches to the Mixed Methods Research Training Program;(2) to provide a mentoring- based research training program in mixed methods research that addresses study designs, data collection, measurement, theme development, data analysis procedures, visualization of designs and procedures, and models of exemplary mixed methods NIH-funded studies through didactic instruction, individualized feedback and project consultation, use of online educational materials, and carefully-designed immediate and long-term assessments;and, (3) to evaluate the outcomes (both short-term and long-term) of the Mixed Methods Research Training Program using metrics of skills development, research performance, and capacity building. We will recruit 14 investigators per year who will participate in a 3-day training program supplemented with webinars and other activities. We will match participants with resource consultants across the United States. After matching, and following an introductory webinar on mixed methods, we will provide an interactive 3-day summer course on mixed methods research. Following the summer course, the Scholars will interact with Program Directors and consultants through on-line conversations and learning communities that will help them further develop their research training through application to their area of interes. An evaluation plan will provide individual metrics and allow ongoing program monitoring and revision.
Mixed methods involve the use of both surveys and open-ended interviewing that lets people tell their own story. This dual perspective has often been left out, so that interventions in health care are sometimes developed but not used in the real world because the people most affected have not been heard. This proposal is a training program to enlarge the national pool of trained investigators in mixed methods, and ultimately to improve the relevance and impact of health research.