How to write a case study

Nurse writing a report
Photo by Francisco Venâncio

A case study is defined as a detailed account of a single individual. This method of study is most often used in psychotherapy and is being used increasingly in Nursing and Medicine. The apparent reason for this is that no two patients are ever alike in every manner. Human studies are, therefore, not like physical science studies. In situations where the case study method is used the complete record of a single person is compiled. This record includes personal history, background, presentation, test results, and interview findings. Also, include all subjective and objective observations.

Clinical psychology and psychiatry were the two disciplines which were nonexperimental initially. Case studies have been used to form the basis for generalized theoretical principles. Increasingly, case studies are being used in the fields of nursing and medicine. This is coming about because there is more emphasis on individual variations and social impacts. Previously the focus was mainly “scientific.”

In any case study, one must identify all the parties involved. The front page should include the following information. Your name, your contact information, (including your email & telephone numbers) The unit for which this case study is being written, the name of the lecturer, the University (Name and address) and due date. If you are submitting your assignment late, you need to state if you have obtained an extension, if no extension has been received you need to submit a separate letter stating the reasons for your lateness.

Page one should identify the patient. It should also state the following: Was informed consent obtained? If there was a document signed, then attach it as an appendix, you may call this appendix A. You also need to state that the work you are submitting is your original work and that it has not been submitted for assessment for any other unit to any other lecturer. This needs to be signed and dated. You may attach this as appendix B.

You can use any font you want but choose the ones which are easy to read. Keep in mind that examiners/markers are human beings too. At an unconscious level, if the work is easy to read, you are likely to end up with a better grade. Another critical point is the font size. Small font sizes are difficult to read. Sure they save paper and ink. Remember, you aim to obtain maximum marks. I prefer font size 12, so do most of my other colleagues. Use bold, italics, underlining to highlight main and essential points.

Margins: For Nursing case studies, the following margins are to be used. 2.5 cms at the top, bottom, and right-hand side of the page leave a margin of 4 cm on the left-hand side. This allows the lecturer/marker to write comments when marking.

Spacing. Double line spacing is the standard and is the standard for nursing case studies in CDU. When using double spacing, please do not insert extra line spaces between paragraphs. This makes the work look “unevenly spaced out.”

Always indent the first line of each paragraph between 5 to 7 spaces. This is the APA standard. The only exception to the rule is the abstract. Abstracts are never indented.

Justification. It is usual not to justify the right-hand margin of nursing case studies, allow the lines to end unevenly even though they look visually unappealing. Remember that the left-hand side of the text is always justified.

Poor grammar gives the marker a wrong impression of your work. Make sure that your sentences are well constructed and easy to read. If necessary, re-read your work, get a friend of a fellow student to look it over for you. Grammar check functions of a computer are not as accurate as one would think they are. Many grammatical mistakes are not picked up by computer programs.

Footnotes should be avoided, unless necessary. The reason for this is that the reader needs to change his focus from the text to the reference and back again. This interferes with the logical sequencing of “smooth flow” of the topic is focused on.

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