Exploring attitudes: the case for Q methodology

Health Educ Res. 2005 Apr;20(2):206-13. doi: 10.1093/her/cyg121. Epub 2004 Sep 22.


Attitudes are often referred to, researched and considered in the discipline of health education and health promotion. This paper highlights Q methodology as an appropriate and relevant means of exploring and studying attitudes within this field. It begins by discussing the difficulties in defining attitude and the problems inherent in attitude measurement. A brief history of Q methodology is given, followed by an explanation of what Q methodology is and the processes involved. This paper argues the case for the use of Q methodology when studying attitudes and justifies why Q methodology should particularly be selected in the study of attitudes within the health field. There are many reasons for this assertion which are explored throughout the paper. The principle one is that Q methodology is a more robust technique, than alternative methods, for the measurement of attitudes and subjective opinion. This paper concludes by proposing that Q methodology is taken up by researchers within health education and health promotion who are concerned with exploring attitudes and subjective opinion.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Health Education / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Q-Sort / statistics & numerical data*