Q-methodology in nursing research: a promising method for the study of subjectivity

West J Nurs Res. 2008 Oct;30(6):759-73. doi: 10.1177/0193945907312979. Epub 2008 Mar 12.


This article provides an overview and application of Q-methodology for nursing researchers, with an illustration of its appropriate usage. Q-methodology has been identified as a method for the analysis of subjective viewpoints and has the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative methods. It shares with qualitative methodologies the aim of exploring subjectivity; however, statistical techniques are used to reveal the structure of views. This article describes the use of Q-methodology to examine subjectivity systematically, revealing connections between accounts that other techniques may overlook. An example from the literature is presented. Q-methodology is useful in qualitative nursing research concerned with the exploration and comparison of subjectivity and attitudes. It can be used to effectively identify attitudes, perceptions, feelings, and values as well as explore life experiences such as stress, self-esteem, body image, and satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design