Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Using Q-methodology to guide the implementation of new healthcare policies
  1. Sarah Alderson,
  2. Robbie Foy,
  3. Louise Bryant,
  4. Shenaz Ahmed,
  5. Allan House
  1. Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Alderson, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; s.l.alderson{at}


There are many challenges in the development, implementation and evaluation of healthcare policy. One challenge is understanding how different stakeholders view a particular policy and what impact these views may have during implementation. Q-methodology is one approach that can be used to help policy makers and researchers actively engage with those who are important in policy implementation, and anticipate their responses. Q-methodology combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to systematically explore and describe the range of viewpoints about a topic. Participants are required to rank a set of predefined statements relating to the topic, according to their own viewpoint. Factor analytic techniques then identify people who are like-minded in the way they view the topic and enable areas of consensus and divergence in viewpoint to be clearly defined. This mapping of viewpoints allows those working in policy implementation to anticipate likely barriers and levers in implementing new policies.

  • healthcare quality improvement
  • health policy
  • health services research
  • process mapping
  • quality improvement methodologies

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors The paper was conceived and designed by SAl and contributed to by all the authors. All the authors were involved in the discussions of the use of Q-methodology in healthcare policy. All authors have experience in conducting Q-methodological studies, contributing to healthcare policy and implementation research. SAl wrote the first draft of the manuscript, which was critically reviewed, revised and approved for submission by all the authors. SAl is guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no additional data for this article.