The purpose of this article is to advocate for the use of mixed methods designs in contemporary physical therapist research. Mixed methods designs are used for collecting, analyzing, and mixing both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or series of studies to both explain and explore specific research problems, thereby enriching the breadth and depth of understanding phenomena. These designs are particularly well suited for physical therapist researchers to reveal the complexity of disablement, rehabilitation, and recovery processes. Although contextual factors influence a person's health condition and recovery, they remain empirically less understood and underexplored by physical therapist researchers. To address this gap, the authors describe various combinations of quantitative and qualitative methods and data within a single study or set of related studies and the decisions that underlie the uses of these combinations. They include examples from current physical therapist research and applications from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model. They argue that the rigorous application of quantitative and qualitative methods and data can propel physical therapist research and practice forward by stimulating new research questions, creating a holistic understanding of patient injury and rehabilitation, and contributing to innovative, complex treatment interventions.
- Received August 16, 2007.
- Accepted October 9, 2008.
- American Physical Therapy Association