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Table 2 Q-methodology results

From: Appraising patient preference methods for decision-making in the medical product lifecycle: an empirical comparison

Most important criteria

A: Early development

B: Early development

C: Late phase III

D: Post-marketing

A typical survey can be conducted at relatively low costs


Data can be collected during quick sessions with participants



Low frequency of sessions required by patients


Relatively quick delivery of preparation, data collection, and analysis

A large number of attributes can be explored


Suitable to study preferences in a small sample size


A low cognitive load on patients

Does not need an education tool or preparatory instructions in order to enhance participant comprehension



Publically acknowledged by your organisation’s guidelines as an acceptable method to study preferences


New attributes can be added without making prior results invalid


Can be used to collect data from more than one participant in a single session



The analysis can calculate risk attitudes, like risk tolerance, and calculate how value functions bend due to the presence of uncertainty in the participant

Explores the reasons behind a preference in detail

Can estimate weights for attributes

Estimates trade-offs that patients are willing to make among attributes

Can quantify heterogeneity in preferences

Internal validity can be established

External validity can be established

Outcomes can refer to a course of health over time (as opposed to a constant health state)


Sensitivity analysis is possible

Can combine quantitative and qualitative methods


Applies validation tests


Results can be reproduced by an (independent) researcher for reproducibility

Applies tests for consistency


Can be conducted without the need for specialized software (beyond Excel)


Can be conducted without programming skills


Researcher does not need to supervise the data collection


Does not require hypothetical scenarios


Attributes and attribute levels can be determined as part of the method itself (internal identification)


Data saturation can be achieved relatively quickly


Does not require model estimations


Outcomes can be expressed in a particular format (e.g. probability scores, marginal rates of substitution, monetary values)


Outcomes can refer to a constant health state (as opposed to a course of health over time)


Uses respondent validation by asking participants to check their data or responses


Validates through triangulation

  1. Criteria considered important in the Q-methodology, included in the AHP
  2. ✘ Criteria considered important in the Q-methodology, but not included in the AHP for the following reasons: 1. The criterion does not sufficiently discriminate between each method (i.e. every method would perform the same way under the criterion), 2. The criterion reflects an element of good study conduct, and not a unique aspect of a method itself, 3. The criterion could be absorbed into other similar criteria, in order to avoid the oversaturation of themes