Q-sample development: use of nominal group technique

Rosemary Mullen, Austyn Snowden, Angela Kydd, Laura McMillan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Presented at the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity Conference in Ancona, Italy in September 2015.

The use of Nominal Group Technique (NGT) to help develop Q-samples in Q-methodology has been recommended (McKeown and Thomas, 2013) but little described in the literature. NGT has been described as a highly structured technique used to explore areas of interest and develop consensus. The process of NGT emerged in the early 1970s and since then has been applied to problems in a wide range of settings. The adaptability and flexibility of the technique is illustrated by its use with a wide range of participants including those with intellectual disabilities and dementia (Roeden, Maaskant and Curfs, 2011; Dening, Jones and Sampson, 2013). During the 4 stages of the process participants articulate, vote and rank viewpoints on a given topic (Harvey and Holmes, 2012). The decision to use NGT was informed by the need to develop consensus around a Q-sample broadly representative of all viewpoints expressed in the natural language of the participants (Watts and Stenner, 2012).

This presentation details the use of NGT to generate a Q-sample for a doctoral Q-methodology study exploring student nurses’ perceptions of dignity in care. Participants (n = 44) were recruited from an undergraduate preregistration nursing programme and four nominal groups were conducted. The viewpoints generated were recorded as statements and the participants voted and ranked these to identify the ones most important to them (Porter, 2012). In combination with literature review, the statements were then used to build the concourse from which the Q-sample for the main study was sampled. Quantitative analysis of the votes and rankings was used to help identify consensus. Qualitative content analysis of the statements helped to condense them and to enrich and triangulate the quantitative results. The resulting provisional Q-sample was then refined through a process of review involving domain experts and pilot study (Baxter et al., 2009) to form the Q-sample for the next phase of the study.

The presentation will:

•Outline the use of NGT in Q-methodology to develop the Q-sample
•Share the lessons learned on Q-sample development using N
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2015
EventAnnual Q Conference for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity - Ancona, Italy
Duration: 14 Sept 201517 Sept 2015
Conference number: 31


ConferenceAnnual Q Conference for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity
Internet address


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