Understanding the priorities of residents, family members and care staff in residential aged care using Q methodology: a study protocol

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Introduction Residential aged care facilities (RACFs) are under increasing pressure to provide high-quality, round the clock care to consumers. However, they are often understaffed and without adequate skill mix and resources. As a result, staff must prioritise care by level of importance, potentially leading to care that is missed, delayed or omitted. To date, the literature on prioritisation and missed care has been dominated by studies involving nursing staff, thereby failing to take into account the complex networks of diverse stakeholders that RACFs comprise. This study aims to investigate the priorities of residents, family members and care staff in order to make comparisons between how care is prioritised in RACFs by the different stakeholder groups. Methods and analysis This study comprises a Q sorting activity using Q methodology, a think-aloud task, a demographics questionnaire and semi-structured interview questions. The study will be conducted in five RACFs across NSW and QLD, Australia. Using purposive sampling, the project will recruit up to 33 participants from each of the three participant groups. Data from the Q sorting activity will be analysed using the analytic software PQMethod to identify common factors (shared viewpoints). Data from the think-aloud task and semi-structured interviews questions will be thematically analysed using the Framework Method and NVivo qualitative data analysis software. Ethics and dissemination The study has been approved by St Vincent's Health and Aged Care Human Research and Ethics Committee and Macquarie University Human Research Ethics Committee. It is expected that findings from the study will be disseminated: in peer-reviewed journals; as an executive report to participating facilities and a summary sheet to participants; as a thesis to fulfill the requirements of a Doctor of Philosophy; and presented at conferences and seminars.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere027479
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • consumer-centred care
  • missed care
  • prioritisation
  • Q methodology
  • residential aged care
  • unfinished care


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