OBJECTIVE: To identify the major features of OMERACT meetings as valued by frequent participants and to explore whether there are groups of participants with different opinions.
METHODS: Using Q methodology (a qualitative and quantitative approach to grouping people according to subjective opinion), participants (who attended more than 1 OMERACT conference) sorted 66 statements relating to the "spirit of OMERACT" according to level of agreement across a normal distribution grid. Data were examined using Q factor analysis.
RESULTS: Of 226 potential participants, 105 responded (46%). All participants highly ranked the focus on global standardization of methods, outcome measures, data-driven research, methodological discussion, and international collaboration. Four factors describing the "spirit of OMERACT" were identified: "Evidence not eminence" (n = 31) valued the data- and evidence-driven research above personality and status; "Collaboration and collegiality" (n = 19) valued the international and cross-stakeholder collaboration, interaction, and collegiality; "Equal voices, equal votes, common goals" (n = 12) valued equality in discussion and voting, with everyone striving toward the same goal; "principles and product, not process" (n = 8) valued the principles of focusing on outcome measures and the product of guiding clinical trials, but were unsure whether the process is necessary to reach this. The factors did not segregate different stakeholder groups.
CONCLUSION: Delegates value different elements of OMERACT, and thus the "spirit of OMERACT" encompasses evidence-based research, collaboration, and equality, although a small group are unsure whether the process is necessary to achieve the end result. Q methodology may prove useful for conference organizers to identify their delegates' different needs to tailor conference content.