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Aust Crit Care. 2007 Nov;20(4):132-6. Epub 2007 Oct 23.

Writing a case study: ensuring a meaningful contribution to the literature.

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Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.


Case studies, also referred to as case reports, have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to the body of literature that examines clinical care. A case study should not only describe, but also facilitate understanding and convey an educational message through explanation of the chosen aspect of care. A particular strength of the case study is that it describes the clinical decision-making that progressed throughout the care, rather than just the presentation of individual elements. Although often flexible, a case study should incorporate an introduction that presents the area of practice and outlines what is currently known from the literature. A clear and logical case description should then be provided, ensuring that essential elements of the history, current care and outcome of the patient are provided. The discussion should provide a critique of the care in the context of the known literature, including commentary on care that was not effective and exploration of possible reasons for this. Clear articulation of the educational message demonstrated throughout the case study should be evident. Case studies have the potential to make a substantial contribution to the body of knowledge in a specific area of clinical practice. Clear implications for practice and recommendations for future research are essential to ensure a strong educational message is conveyed through the report.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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