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Why write a case report?

I have the opportunity to talk with DCs who often ask questions about how to conduct research in their practice. These questions are often generated from the desire to communicate successful clinical experiences. However, conducting ethical and quality research in any setting requires someone skilled and trained in research study design, research methods, ethics, and often statistical expertise. Thus, conducting research in a practice setting usually requires additional training and collaboration with an experienced researcher. However, finding someone with the requisite expertise, time, and opportunity to serve as advisor / mentor can be challenging.

Usually, after I outline some of the requirements for conducting research in a practice setting, many DCs find that piloting a clinical study in their practice is simply not feasible, and this is understandable. However, writing and publishing a case report is a reasonable alternative for some and a process that can be rewarding for both writer and reader. Though considered low on the evidence hierarchy, I consider case reports quite valuable because they:
• provide an evidentiary basis for follow-up research
• inform others of unusual or unique case presentations and responses to care
• allow authors to communicate with those they will never meet, both within and beyond the writer’s profession
• provide a foundation for an evidence-based clinical discussion
• describe individual patients and treatments in much more detail than clinical trials can
• afford an educational opportunity for authors
I have enjoyed many conversations with DCs who share their accounts of interesting, challenging, and otherwise valuable clinical cases. I suspect there is no shortage of clinical experiences that would provide the foundation for a worthwhile case report. But how can a person get started? Well, here are 2 resources that can help you.

First, is an article written by Drs. Green and Johnson titled “How to write a case report for publication.”1 The article, published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, is freely accessible at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647062/
A second resource is a website dedicated solely to case reports. The website includes information including recommendations for report standards, case report examples, a writing checklist, and other helpful information. You can find the website at this address: http://www.care-statement.org/index.html

Reference List

1. Green BN, Johnson CD. How to write a case report for publication. J Chiropr Med. 2006;5:72-82.

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