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Field methods. 2008;20(1):3-25.

Making Sense of Qualitative and Quantitative Findings in Mixed Research Synthesis Studies.

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  • 1Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center.


The synthesis of qualitative and quantitative research findings is increasingly promoted, but many of the conceptual and methodological issues it raises have yet to be fully understood and resolved. In this article, we describe how we handled issues encountered in efforts to synthesize the findings in forty-two reports of studies of antiretroviral adherence in HIV-positive women in the course of an ongoing study to develop methods to synthesize qualitative and quantitative research findings in common domains of health-related research. Working with these reports underscored the importance of looking past method claims and ideals and directly at the findings themselves, differentiating between aggregative syntheses in which findings are assimilated and interpretive syntheses in which they are configured, and understanding the judgments involved in designating relationships between findings as confirmatory, divergent, or complementary.

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