Applying mixed methods in evaluation of a community prevention project: reflections on strengths and challenges
AIMS - In this study we report on experiences with applying mixed methods in an evaluation study and present reflections on strengths and challenges in this respect. What was done in order to integrate qualitative and quantitative methods? What were the main benefits? What kinds of difficulties were encountered. METHODS - The study is a case report based on the researchers' own experiences from applying qualitative process evaluation and quantitative effect evaluation in a comprehensive evaluation of a complex community prevention project. RESULTS - Findings from qualitative methods were used to initiate further effect evaluation (sequential integration) and to support and explain findings from the effect evaluation (simultaneous integration). The main benefits were a more nuanced and comprehensive evaluation integrated into a common evaluation report. The integration of qualitative and quantitative methods presented a number of challenges, particularly in integrating the analyses and writing a common report, due to significant differences in research traditions. CONCLUSION - The use of mixed methods in this evaluation study was very useful and necessary, particularly to explain the findings and to provide information for future prevention projects. However, essential differences between process evaluation and effect evaluation presented challenges.