Examining Perceptions and Attitudes

West J Nurs Res. 2017 May;39(5):674-689. doi: 10.1177/0193945916661302. Epub 2016 Jul 24.


The purpose of this article is to compare and discuss the use of Likert-type scales and Q-methodology to examine perceptions and attitudes in nursing research. This article provides a brief review of each approach, and how they have been used to advance our knowledge in health-related perceptions and attitudes. Although Likert-type scales are economical, efficient, and easy to analyze, the results can be difficult to interpret or translate into meaningful practice. In contrast, Q-methodology yields holistic and in-depth information on what the prevailing perceptions and attitudes are, but its conduct is logistically challenging and the results' generalizability can be limited. The appropriate uses of either or both approaches to answer different research questions will be discussed. Nurse scientists are called upon to continue our exploration, utilization, and expansion of unique methodologies that directly speak to a meaningful examination of these important constructs in nursing research.

Keywords: Likert-type scales; Q-methodology; attitudes; perceptions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Q-Sort
  • Surveys and Questionnaires