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Triangulation in Healthcare Research: What Does It Achieve?

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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In 2007 I started my PhD to examine to what extent health sector decentralisation would improve access to and utilisation of health services, and the challenges faced, if any, while accessing the essential health services using a qualitative paradigm within the primary healthcare context in Nepal. I involved a range of qualitative research methods – interviews, discussions and observations with health service users, providers, policy-planners and decision-makers – to capture the wider picture of the research process, content and context. Triangulation was one method used while reviewing, synthesising and interpreting field data. Triangulation has been advocated as a methodological technique not only to enhance the validity of the research findings but also to achieve ‘completeness’ and ‘confirmation’ of data using multiple methods or approaches, so as to minimise one method's weaknesses or challenges by the strengths of other methods. Is that always the case? This case study provides a broad picture considering what triangulation in research really is; what sort of evidence can be used as a basis for practice; why triangulation is important in research and the researching process; and how triangulation would contribute to make research findings ‘convincing’. I draw on my personal, as well as professional, perspectives and experiences.

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