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The University of Southampton

HMPR3003 Analysing Complexity: Combining research methods to design and evaluate innovation in Health Services

Module Overview

This module aims to facilitate development of the knowledge, capacity for critical thinking and skills required to evaluate, design and undertake mixed methods research addressing contemporary problems in health care system design, delivery and policy. The module provides an introduction to areas of contention within mixed methods research and provides the opportunity for students to analyse, integrate and interpret data arising from the use of dissimilar research methods within healthcare research. Students will work with examples of research addressing complex health care problems to develop their ability to critique the design, analysis and interpretation of mixed methods research. This module will require students to apply and combine research methods taught in previous modules in the design of projects to address research questions that arise in relation to healthcare policy, innovation and service delivery.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify contentions in combining differing methodologies and philosophies of research and present arguments for and against their integration to address a specific research question.
  • Identify how qualitative and quantitative research methods might be combined to answer research questions that arise in relation to healthcare delivery and design.
  • Critically evaluate mixed methods research designed to solve problems in healthcare delivery and design.
  • Integrate analyses of qualitative and quantitative data, and analyses of data from research studies using different methodologies, to draw a conclusion in relation to a specified research question.


• What is mixed methods research in health care delivery and design? • Contentions in mixed methods research • Combining dissimilar methodologies or paradigms • Combining qualitative and quantitative methods • Using multiple or integrated data collection methods • Approaches to the integration of qualitative and quantitative analyses • Methodological innovation 'inside and outside' of health services research • Mixed methods in public health research • Using mixed methods research to understand how organisations work (with exemplars) • Using mixed methods research to evaluate services • Using mixed methods research to design and evaluate innovation (with exemplars) • Mixed methods research in the MRC framework for complex interventions • Applications and critique • Qualitative research in trials and N-of-1 trials • Pragmatic and exploratory trials • Using qualitative research to redesign trials • Mean effects and individual differences • Measuring outcomes in health services research This module will facilitate students to apply qualitative and quantitative methods taught in Research Methods I and II, Quantitative Methods I and II and Qualitative Methods I to design and evaluate health services and innovation in health care.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be taught through the use of lectures, workshops, small-group work and electronic learning opportunities for example through the use of data analysis packages and on-line resources for identifying literature. Workshops involving group work will address topics such as Analysing data from different sources and integrating results to answer a research question; Designing mixed methods research projects to address contemporary health care problems and Critiquing the literature (empirical studies employing mixed methods). Formative feedback will be given in these sessions to support development.

Wider reading or practice30
Completion of assessment task49
Practical classes and workshops14
Follow-up work30
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Total study time188

Resources & Reading list

Bergman MM (2011). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Mixed Methods Research and Design. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. ,5 , pp. 271-275.

Donovan, J. L., Athene, L.J., Peters, T.J., Brindle, L., et al. (2009). Development of a complex intervention improved randomization and informed consent in a randomization and informed consent in a randomized controlled trial. J,Clin.Epidemiol. , pp. 29-36.

Bergman MM (2008). Advances in mixed methods research: theories and applications. 

Black N (1998). Health services research methods: a guide to best practice. 

Sharon A (2009). Mixed methods research for nursing and the health sciences. 

O'Cathain A, Murphy E and Nicholl J (2010). Three techniques for integrated data in mixed methods studies. BMJ. .

Craig P, Dieppe P, Macintyre S, Michie S, Nazaret I, Petticrew M (2008). Developing and evaluating complex interventions: the new Medical Research Council guidance. BMJ. .


Assessment Strategy

Referral Method Student must achieve a mean module pass rate. If this is not achieved the student will be required to repeat the failed 3000 word assignment


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (3000 words) 95%
Attendance at workshops and submission of set work 5%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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