Healthcare is becoming increasingly complex. The pre-hospital setting is no exception, especially when considering the unpredictable environment. To address complex clinical problems and improve quality of care for patients, researchers need to use innovative methods to create the necessary depth and breadth of knowledge. Quantitative approaches such as randomised controlled trials and observational (e.g. cross-sectional, case control, cohort) methods, along with qualitative approaches including interviews, focus groups and ethnography, have traditionally been used independently to gain understanding of clinical problems and how to address these. Both approaches, however, have drawbacks: quantitative methods focus on objective, numerical data and provide limited understanding of context, whereas qualitative methods explore more subjective aspects and provide perspective, but can be harder to demonstrate rigour. We argue that mixed methods research, where quantitative and qualitative methods are integrated, is an ideal solution to comprehensively understand complex clinical problems in the pre-hospital setting.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Gregory Whitley, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Scott Munro, South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust University of Surrey

Pippa Hemmingway, University of Nottingham

Graham Law, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Niro Siriwardena, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Debbie Cookie, University of Surrey

Tom Quinn, Kingston University & St George’s, University of London