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In 1970, the world first got acquainted with Genie. It was also the little girl’s first time to see a world beyond the potty chair where she was often bound to. Barely a contact outside for most of her life, she was a ripe case for studying the effects of extreme isolation in young children. Clinical case studies shed light on rare and specific circumstances, like Genie’s ordeal, that help us understand the bigger picture. Largely qualitative research, these case studies are an attempt to understand a subject and the case, usually in relation to a general concept.
Clinical case studies can focus on a person, group, or community. In contrast to case reports, these studies don’t end in reporting about the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of patients. Case studies abide by the research methodology and design to understand an experience. During a case study analysis, both subjective and objective accounts of the events are deemed valid data. By focusing on a pixel of the picture, you can learn something that you would have otherwise overlooked. We have prepared the following case study templates that you can use in your research. For your reference, we added examples of scenarios where clinical case studies are being used.
Case studies are a common method of research in medical and psychological sciences. They are vivid narratives about undocumented cases that strike researchers as irregular and interesting. Their highly descriptive content are valuable information to the respective scientific community. They also open new avenues of inquiry and offer an in-depth treatment of a topic that empirical research cannot give. Its comprehensive nature helps make case study a popular research option, even if it falls short of evidence-based data. Thinking of using this research method? Get started with this template!
Since the studies contain detailed accounts, you have to format all the information into categories. The defined structure of the article makes all the information easy to absorb. A case study generally contains the following sections: abstract, introduction, patient information, review of related literature, methodology, findings, then the conclusion. The comprehensive nature of this research method might deter novice researchers, while veteran medical writers might just need a reminder. In either case, this sample outline is for you!
This research method is usable in answering different inquiries. It is notable that case studies are heavy on the qualitative data. Researchers can obtain relevant data from interviews, questionnaires, personal and patients’ observations, journals, clinical reports, and existing literature. However, as seen in this attached example, quantitative data can also be collected as the researchers deem fit. Because the goal is not to derive data that can represent a population, researchers can use a smaller sample size. Study how to make both numbers and descriptions work to your advantage in preparing your clinical case study with this example!
In a physician’s life, he or she is bound to come across a case that medical school and textbooks did not warn him or her. Clinical case studies are a form of communication about novel findings or observations in practice. Sort of like a medical buzz, the studies contain information like unreported health complications, adverse response to treatment, or new remedial methods. These case studies can also branch into new research directions. This case study illustrates how misdiagnosis can be harmful to the patient. Because some diseases can have overlapping symptoms, it can be hard to identify which is which. The case study alerted the medical community that a seemingly mundane skin condition can point to something more serious.
In the field of psychology, clinic psychologists and therapists can report about their interactions with the patient. Some of these cases can stand out as rare and unusual. Others may also serve as a useful reference. Practitioners can obtain information through semi-structured interviews wherein the patient talks with a mental health professional. After the sessions, the practitioner can interpret his or her findings into diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan. Psychology is not entirely removed from medicine. The specialist can incorporate the medical history of the patient in his or her interpretation. This sample case study shows medicine and psychology can work together in the prevention of stress-induced asthma attacks.
The descriptive take of clinical case studies on a situation presents an exhaustive analysis that is not available in empirical research. However, the qualitative nature of these studies is a double-edged sword. The combination of subjective and objective analysis makes the content susceptible to personal biases. Because the case is unique to an individual or a group, researchers cannot replicate the result. The replicability of findings is a hallmark of reliable research. Therefore, clinical case studies have a low-reliability measure. The attached case study is an example of the use of descriptive analysis in the diagnosis and treatment of a patient with depression and adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety.
Another point raised against clinical case studies is the issue of memory distortion. The human memory is not a machine that can record and retrieve information at command. It is fallible, and it will make mistakes. The patients can emphasize a few parts of their history and overlook otherwise important pieces of the puzzle. Reliance on memory recall when writing the study can also fail the researchers. The sample clinical case study added here shows how a patient’s recollection of events in her life can be used in the presentation of the case. If the patient failed to recall important details, the researchers might have a different interpretations of the case.
Despite criticisms regarding susceptibility to biases and low-reliability measure, clinical case studies have been an indispensable tool for learning. Studies have reported a significant improvement in the academic performance of students after the integration of case studies into the learning ecosystem. Case studies are situation-based narratives about a textbook principle. Application-motivated learning is effective because the theoretical framework isn’t removed from the real-world experience. This case study is an example of those that are used in the classroom. The students are presented with a problem and series of follow up questions that will help them understand and address the issues exhibited.
Unlike empirical investigations, the goal is not to come up with results that can represent a population. Case studies focus on understanding an unusual plight through subjective and objective analysis. Understandably, such situation might not hold for most people. They are also the method of choice for understanding circumstances that cannot be reproduced in controlled testing environments, like Genie’s case earlier or the case discussed in the attached case study sample. Therapy for anorexia nervosa and obsessive personality disorder is hard to come by using quantitative research. Replicating such conditions will constitute a criminal offense. What case studies lack in the universality of the results, they make up for the richness of the insights obtained. It acknowledges that the human experience will always have a degree of subjectivity. This defense of clinical case studies makes them significant in their own right.