What are the classification of research methodologies used in nursing research?

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Assignment Question

What are the classification of research methodologies used in nursing research?



Nursing research plays a vital role in the development of evidence-based nursing practice, contributing to improved patient care and outcomes. Research in nursing is a multifaceted endeavor, encompassing various research methodologies that guide the systematic investigation of nursing-related questions. These methodologies provide nurses with the tools and frameworks necessary to explore and answer research questions effectively. In this essay, we will delve deeper into the classification of research methodologies commonly used in nursing research, shedding light on the key approaches that underpin the field’s pursuit of knowledge.

Classification of Research Methodologies in Nursing Research

Quantitative Research Methodology

Quantitative research in nursing involves the systematic collection and analysis of numerical data to answer specific research questions or test hypotheses (Polit & Beck, 2017). It employs structured data collection tools, such as surveys, questionnaires, and standardized assessments, to gather data from a large sample of participants. Statistical analysis techniques, such as inferential statistics, are then applied to interpret the data and draw conclusions (Polit & Beck, 2017). This methodology is particularly valuable when exploring topics that can be quantified, such as the efficacy of a new medication or the impact of nursing interventions on patient outcomes (Polit & Beck, 2017). Quantitative research encompasses various study designs, including experimental studies, which involve the manipulation of variables to establish causation, and observational studies, which investigate relationships without direct intervention (Polit & Beck, 2017). For instance, a nurse researcher might conduct an experimental study to assess the effect of a specific nursing intervention on blood pressure control among hypertensive patients

Qualitative Research Methodology

Qualitative research in nursing focuses on understanding and interpreting the complex, subjective aspects of human experiences, behaviors, and perceptions (Sandelowski, 2010). Researchers employing qualitative methodology seek to gain in-depth insights into the lived experiences of individuals and the meaning they ascribe to those experiences (Sandelowski, 2010). Qualitative research designs commonly used in nursing include phenomenology, grounded theory, and ethnography (Sandelowski, 2010). Anurse researcher might choose a phenomenological approach to explore the lived experiences of patients coping with a chronic illness. Through in-depth interviews and analysis of participants’ narratives, this methodology allows researchers to uncover the essence of their experiences, shedding light on the emotional, social, and psychological dimensions of living with a chronic condition (Sandelowski, 2010).

Mixed-Methods Research Methodology

Mixed-methods research combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, providing a comprehensive approach to understanding complex healthcare phenomena (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). Nurse researchers opt for mixed-methods when they believe that a combination of numerical data and in-depth qualitative insights will yield a more holistic understanding of their research questions (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). In a mixed-methods study, researchers collect both quantitative data through surveys, experiments, or chart reviews and qualitative data through interviews, observations, or focus groups (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). The integration of quantitative and qualitative data allows researchers to triangulate findings, providing a more robust and nuanced understanding of the phenomenon under investigation (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). For instance, in a study assessing the quality of end-of-life care in a hospice setting, a nurse researcher might use a mixed-methods approach. They could gather quantitative data on patient satisfaction scores and then conduct qualitative interviews with patients and their families to explore the emotional and psychological aspects of their experiences, ultimately offering a comprehensive assessment of the care provided.

Action Research Methodology

Action research is a unique approach often used in nursing research, particularly in clinical settings. This methodology emphasizes collaboration between researchers and practitioners, with the goal of addressing real-world problems and improving practice (McNiff & Whitehead, 2016). Nurse researchers who engage in action research work closely with healthcare teams to identify issues, develop and implement interventions, and evaluate the outcomes of these interventions (McNiff & Whitehead, 2016). This collaborative approach aligns with the principles of evidence-based practice in nursing, where research findings directly inform and enhance patient care. For example, a nurse researcher may partner with a hospital’s nursing staff to address medication administration errors. Through a series of collaborative meetings and data collection efforts, the team identifies the root causes of errors and implements changes to the medication administration process. Action research allows for real-time adjustments and improvements, leading to safer patient care.

Historical Research Methodology

Historical research in nursing involves the examination and analysis of past events, practices, and documents to gain insights into the evolution of nursing and healthcare (Garrett, 2019). This methodology is essential for understanding the historical context in which nursing practices and policies have developed, providing valuable lessons for the present and future of nursing. Nurse historians explore archives, letters, diaries, and historical records to piece together the history of nursing, the contributions of nursing pioneers, and the societal forces that have shaped the profession (Garrett, 2019). One example of historical nursing research might involve investigating the role of nursing during a past pandemic, such as the Spanish flu in 1918. By examining historical documents and narratives, nurse researchers can draw parallels to the challenges faced by nurses during that time and apply the lessons learned to current healthcare crises.

Longitudinal Research Methodology

Longitudinal research is a quantitative approach that involves studying the same group of individuals or subjects over an extended period to track changes, trends, or developments over time (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). In nursing research, longitudinal studies are particularly valuable for examining the progression of chronic illnesses, the long-term effects of healthcare interventions, or changes in healthcare practices and policies. These studies often require repeated data collection at multiple time points, allowing researchers to identify patterns and make predictions (Creswell & Creswell, 2017).

For example, a nurse researcher interested in understanding the long-term impact of a nurse-led diabetes education program might follow a cohort of diabetic patients over several years. By collecting data at multiple intervals, the researcher can assess changes in patients’ glycemic control, quality of life, and healthcare utilization over time, providing valuable insights for diabetes management.

Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Systematic review and meta-analysis are research methodologies that focus on synthesizing existing research literature to provide a comprehensive overview of a specific research question or topic (Higgins & Green, 2019). In nursing research, systematic reviews are essential for gathering and critically appraising evidence from multiple studies to inform clinical guidelines, policy decisions, and practice recommendations (Higgins & Green, 2019). Meta-analysis, a component of systematic reviews, involves statistical analysis to combine the results of individual studies, increasing the power and precision of findings (Higgins & Green, 2019).

For instance, a nurse researcher interested in the effectiveness of pain management interventions for postoperative patients might conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis. By systematically searching, evaluating, and synthesizing the results of various studies on pain management techniques, the researcher can provide clinicians with evidence-based recommendations for optimizing pain control in postoperative care.


In summary, nursing research employs a diverse range of research methodologies, each tailored to the specific research questions and objectives at hand. Quantitative research excels in investigating numerical relationships and causality, while qualitative research delves deep into the subjective aspects of human experiences and perceptions. Mixed-methods research combines these approaches, offering a more holistic understanding of complex nursing phenomena. As the nursing profession continues to evolve and adapt to the changing healthcare landscape, the use of diverse research methodologies remains pivotal in generating evidence that informs best practices and ultimately enhances patient care.


Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Sandelowski, M. (2010). What’s in a name? Qualitative description revisited. Research in Nursing & Health, 33(1), 77-84.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Sage Publications.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is nursing research, and why is it important?

Nursing research is a systematic inquiry into issues relevant to nursing practice. It is essential for improving patient care, enhancing nursing knowledge, and guiding evidence-based practice.

2. What are the key classifications of research methodologies used in nursing research?

The primary classifications of research methodologies in nursing research include quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches.

3. What is quantitative research in nursing, and when is it used?

Quantitative research in nursing involves the collection of numerical data and statistical analysis. It is used to answer research questions that require measurement and quantification, such as assessing the effectiveness of interventions or examining relationships between variables.

4. What is qualitative research in nursing, and when is it used?

Qualitative research in nursing focuses on exploring and understanding subjective aspects of nursing care, such as human experiences, perceptions, and behaviors. It is used when researchers seek in-depth insights and contextual understanding.

5. What is mixed-methods research, and how does it combine quantitative and qualitative approaches in nursing research?

Mixed-methods research in nursing combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Researchers collect both numerical data and qualitative insights to provide a more comprehensive understanding of complex healthcare phenomena.