An introduction to Q methodology

Simons, Joan (2013). An introduction to Q methodology. Nurse Researcher, 20(3) pp. 28–32.




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.

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