An introduction to Q methodology
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An introduction to Q methodology

Joan Simons Assistant head of the department, Health social care at The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Aim To explain Q methodology, an untraditional approach to nursing research, by exploring the various stages involved in it and using two studies.

Background Q has some of the advantages of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. A defining principle of Q is its assumption that subjective viewpoints are amenable to systematic analysis. Q aims to identify shared views across a population. The orientation of the uncovered perspectives differs significantly from qualitative research and there is no researcher bias.

Data sources Studies on living with chronic pain and the therapeutic relationship in mental health nursing.

Review methods A review of the advantages and disadvantages of Q.

Discussion In areas where there are many contradictions and contrasting views, for example nursing practice, such a methodology could bring clarity in identifying subjective views of different groups. This article will first present the methodology followed by two examples of studies that have been carried out.

Conclusion This article demonstrates that Q has much to offer nurse researchers, because the identification of patients’ viewpoints in a reliable way has the potential to help nurses to deliver evidence-based practice in response to patients’ needs.

Implications for research/practice Q methodology has much to offer nursing research because the identification of patients’ viewpoints has the potential to enhance nurses’ abilities to deliver responsive evidence-based practice.

Nurse Researcher. 20, 3, 28-32. doi: 10.7748/nr2013.

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

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