Even though a wide variety of methods are used in health psychology research, multiple-method strategies are rarely used in the sense of Campbell and Fiske's (1959) multitrait-multimethod analysis, which requires the use of several methods to measure the same construct or phenomenon to be able to separate trait from method influences. Instead, most studies in health psychology are currently characterized by predicting health behavior or health outcomes using only one measure for each predictor variable. Furthermore, many studies utilize solely self-report measures for assessing the various constructs (Skelton & Strohmetz, 1990). Scrutinizing the methods sections of all Health Psychology articles published in 2002 revealed that 60% (44 out of 73) of the reported studies rely exclusively on self-reports.
A PsycARTICLES search for the keyword "multi-method" in the journal Health Psychology for articles published since 1988 revealed zero results. Conducting the same search for all 40 APA journals revealed 94 results, but none of the articles deal specifically with a health psychology research question. Similarly, the search for "triangulation" led to zero results in Health Psychology; the search "triangulation + health" led to four results, two of them with health psychology themes. The search "physiological + self-report + health" led to the most successful outcome, with a total of 19 health psychology results when conducting the search in all APA journals. Some of these studies are described following, but it should be noted that none of these used multimethod strategies in the sense of Campbell and Fiske's (1959) multiple indicator notion. A review of the articles found suggests that studies using multiple methods in health psychology research can be organized into four categories: (a) using multiple methods to assess different predictors of an outcome variable, (b) using multiple self-report methods for construct validation purposes, (c) using a combination of self-reports and other methods for construct validation purposes (e.g., self- and proxy reports or self-report and physiological measures), and (d) using multiple methods in successive steps of research program (e.g., qualitative, then quantitative). Examples for each of the four categories are described following.
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