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  • Submitted by,
  • Namitha.P.Thamby

  • It was Frederick Le Play (1806-1882) who
    introduced this method for the first time into
    social science research in his studies on family
    budget .
  • Herbert Spencer an English sociologist
    (1820-1903) was the 1st to use case materials in
    his ethnographic studies.
  • William Healy a psychiatrist adopted this method
    for the first time to study juvenile delinquents
  • In the field of psychology exhaustive case
    studies have been done by Murray and his
    associates at the Harvard psychological clinic.

  • A case study is an in-depth analysis of a single
    person. Case studies are often used in clinical
    cases or in situations when lab research is not
    possible or practical
  • A case study involves a particular method of
    research. Rather than using large samples and
    following a rigid protocol to examine a limited
    number of variables, case study methods involve
    an in-depth, longitudinal examination of a single
    instance or event

  • . A case study provides a systematic way of
    looking at events, collecting data, analyzing
    information, and reporting the results. As a
    result the researcher may gain a sharpened
    understanding of why the instance happened as it
    did, and what might become important to look at
    more extensively in future research

  • It is an approach that views a social unit as a
  • A social unit need not be an individual, but it
    may be a family, a social group, social
    institution or a community.
  • Here the researcher not only tries to explain the
    complex behavioural pattern of the social units
    but also tries to locate those factors which have
    given rise to such complex behavioural pattern.

  • Since it is a descriptive research no variables
    are manipulated here.
  • It gathers data through methods of observation,
    interview, questionnaire, and other psychological
    tests. Analysis of recorded data from newspaper,
    court, govt. agencies and other similar sources
    is common.

  • Under this method the researcher can take one
    single unit or more of such units for his study
    purpose. He may even take a situation to study
    the same comprehensively.
  • Here the selected unit is studied in minute
    details which extends over a long period of time.
  • It covers all facts and studies the social unit
    as an integrated totality.

  • Here the approach happens to be qualitative and
    not quantitative.
  • An effort is made to know the mutual inter
    relationship of causal factors.
  • Here the behavior pattern of concerning unit id
    studied directly and not by an indirect and
    abstract approach.
  • It results in fruitful hypothesis along with data
    which may be helpful in testing them.

  • 1.Recognition and determination of the status of
    the phenomenon to be investigated or the unit of
  • 2. collection of data, examination and history of
    the given phenomenon.
  • 3.diagnosis and identification of causal factors
    as a basis for remedial or developmental

  • 4. application of remedial measures that is
    treatment and therapy.
  • Follow up program to determine effectiveness of
    the treatment applied.

Case history structure
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • An introduction is necessary to establish the
    focus of your case and provide orientation to
    your reader. It should consist of a few clear and
    concise opening statements, which typically
    include information on
  • Name (pseudonym)
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Referral details
  • Central problem

  • 1.2 History of Presenting Complaint
  • This should be a detailed account of
    the patient's central problem that you have
    already identified in your opening statement. Put
    details about the problem and related symptoms in
    a chronological order, as this will help with the
    clarity of your writing.
  • Identify common psychiatric symptoms You should
    make connections between the isolated symptoms
    that the patient may have revealed to you
    somewhat randomly in their interview by grouping
    the symptoms together (i.e. depressive,
    psychotic, anxiety). This will help your writing
    to develop logical sequences. It may be necessary
    to comment on relevant negative as well as
    positive symptoms.
  • Comment on the impact of the illness on the
    patient's life Consider work, social relations
    and self-care.
  • Note details of previous treatment Include
    information on who administered management (when
    and where), what the treatment was (and
    preferably the dose and duration of treatment),
    and the patient's responses to treatment.
  • Integrate current problem and psychiatric
    issues Consider the relationship between the
    patient's psychiatric state and concurrent
    medical conditions

  • 1.3 Past Psychiatric History
  • The following points are relevant in this
  • details of previous episodes of illness
  • previous psychiatric admissions/treatment
  • outpatient/community treatment
  • suicide attempts/drug and alcohol abuse
  • interval functioning (what is the patient like
    between episodes/when "well')
  • By including this sort of information, you will
    build a picture of the pattern of illness
    (chronicity, severity, coping strategies, crisis
    triggers, etc.), which will contribute toward a
    complete discussion of the illness

  • 1.4 Past Medical History
  • In this section of the report, you need to show
    that you a) understand the relationship between
    medical conditions and psychiatric symptoms, and
    b) can appreciate the complexity of medical
    problems that might be exacerbated by psychiatric
  • Record medications. Demonstrate an understanding
    of the significance of drug therapy on
    psychological function and, if appropriate, focus
    on medications taken by the patient that may
    influence the patient's psychological function.

  • 1.5 Family History
  • Include details of
  • Parents and siblings, nature of the relationships
    between family members
  • Any family tensions and stresses and family
    models of coping
  • Family history of psychiatric illness (incl.
    drug/alcohol abuse, suicide attempts)
  • Include a geneogram (drawing of family tree).

  • 1.6 Personal History/Development
  • Use the list in Bloch and Singh (200193) as a
    guide for selecting and organising the
    information in this section
  • Early development
  • Childhood
  • School
  • Adolescence
  • Occupation
  • Menstrual history
  • Sexual history
  • Marital history
  • Children
  • Social network
  • Habits
  • Leisure
  • Forensic history

  • Based upon the number of individuals
  • Individual case study in this the social unit
    consist of one individual, it emphasizes analysis
    in depth.
  • Community case study In this the social unit is
    a family or a social group.

Types of case study
  • 1.Illustrative case studyAn illustrative case
    study describes a domain they utilize one or two
    instances to analyze a situation. This helps
    interpret other data, especially when researchers
    have reason to believe that readers know too
    little about a program. This case study serves to
    make the unfamiliar familiar, and give readers a
    common language about the topic. The chosen site
    should typify important variations and contain a
    small number of cases to sustain readers'
  • 2.Exploratory case studyAn exploratory case
    study condenses the case study process
    researchers may undertake them before
    implementing a large-scale investigation. Where
    considerable uncertainty exists about program
    operations, goals, and results, the exploratory
    case study helps identify questions, select
    measurement constructs, and develop measures
    they also serve to safeguard investment in larger

  • 3.Critical instance case studyThe critical
    instance case study examines one or a few sites
    for one of two purposes. A very frequent
    application involves the examination of a
    situation of unique interest, with little or no
    interest in generalizability. A second, rarer,
    application entails calling into question a
    highly generalized or universal assertion and
    testing it by examining one instance. This method
    particularly suits answering cause-and-effect
    questions about the instance of
    concern.Inadequate specification of the
    evaluation question forms the most serious
    pitfall in this type of study. Appropriate
    application of the critical instance case study
    crucially involves probing the underlying
    concerns in a request.4.Program implementation
    case studyA program implementation case study
    helps discern whether implementation complies
    with intent. This case study may also prove
    useful when concern exists about implementation
    problems. Extensive, longitudinal reports of what
    has happened over time can set a context for
    interpreting a finding of implementation
    variability. In either case, researchers aim for
    generalization and must carefully negotiate the
    evaluation questions with their customer.

  • 5.Program effects case studyProgram effects
    case studies can determine the impact of programs
    and provide inferences about reasons for success
    or failure. As with the program implementation
    case study, the evaluation questions usually
    require generalizability and, for a highly
    diverse program, it may become difficult to
    answer the questions adequately and retain a
    manageable number of sites. But methodological
    solutions to this problem exist. One approach
    involves first conducting the case study in sites
    chosen for their representativeness, then
    verifying these findings through examination of
    administrative data, prior reports, or a survey.
    Another solution involves using other methods
    first. After identifying findings of specific
    interest, researchers may then implement case
    studies in selected sites to maximize the
    usefulness of the information.

  • 6.Cumulative case studyThe cumulative case
    study aggregates information from several sites
    collected at different times. The cumulative case
    study can have a retrospective focus, collecting
    information across studies done in the past, or a
    prospective outlook, structuring a series of
    investigations for different times in the future.
    Retrospective cumulation allows generalization
    without cost and time of conducting numerous new
    case studies prospective cumulation also allows
    generalization without unmanageably large numbers
    of cases in process at any one time.

  • Intensive study of the social unit is possible.
  • Provides sufficient basal facts for developing a
    suitable hypothesis.
  • Researcher gets sufficient facts for making a
    comparison between two similar social unit.
  • It provides opportunity for careful examination
    of all those relevant facts and data on the basis
    of which questionnaire or opinionnaire or any
    psychological test is to be developed.

  • The chief danger in the case study is the
    response of the researcher itself. Here the
    researcher comes to feel false sense of certainty
    about conclusions arrived at.
  • The case study method looks deceptively simple
    ,thus it is essential that the researcher must be
    thoroughly familiar with the existing theoretical
    knowledge of the concerned field and must be
    skillful in isolating the important variables
    from other irrelevant ones.

  • It is a costly method in terms of both money and
  • The subject bias of researcher is a constant
    threat to objective data gathering in case study.
    As a consequence the conclusion loses its
    dependability and validity
  • Cause and effect relationship is not established
    in this method.