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Case Report Resources


Presenting cases is a common assignment within the medical literacy and interventions courses here at CGI.  However, there may be times when you do not have a case from your own work or personal experience that fits the parameters of a particular assignment.

In those instances, it may be helpful to locate a published case and to use the patient history as a starting point for your own case study.  Below find several ways you can locate patient descriptions and case history information that you, in turn, can use as a hypothetical basis for your own assignments.

Case Study or Case Report?

In research, a case study is a focused exploration of the “case’s” situation, which will be comprised of an individual, a group of individuals, or other defined sampling frame.  "It may entail interviews with case members, note-taking of observations of the environment, interactions within the case and of the case with the external environment, examinations of records/documents about the case and by the case, and so on. The purpose is to develop a complete description of the “case” in the context of the research question. Thus, while a case study of a single person’s health care treatment may superficially seem similar to a case report, the framework, process, and results are very different" (Porcino, 2016). 

In medicine, a case report is a detailed report of the symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports may contain a demographic profile of the patient, but usually describe an unusual or novel occurrence that might provide insight into work with similar patients  (Porcino, 2016).

The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.  For your academic purposes, locating case reports to use as a basis for an assignment will be more fruitful than searching for case studies.

Locating Case Reports in the Library

Library databases, such as CINAHL and PSYCArticles, publish case reports.  These can be located by using a search strategy.

View of library search box.

Step One:  Search.

  • Use the proper MeSH term - "case reports" as a Subject.
  • Use AND to search for a case report on a particular subject.

Step Two:  Review Results and Select Article.

This search strategy will return results that have both items in their subject descriptions.

Sample result.  Both the terms "case report" and "depression" are listed among the subject headings.

Step Three:  Access article to mine for information.

Case reports will typically include a case presentation, or detailed background information on the patient.  You can mine this area of the report to create a profile of a hypothetical patient that you can use for an assignment.  

Open Access Journals in the Library

The CORE Library provides access to several open-access journals that present cases:

Let the Buyer Beware

Be advised that not all open-access journals are created equally, and some may use predatory publishing practices to secure content.  The Medical Library Association has produced a list of journals that accept case reports.  (Akers, 2016).   You may find the column "Questionable Publishing Practices" to be interesting.

As you would be using these articles strictly to create your own hypothetical profiles of patients, the quality of the research is not necessarily an issue unless you intend to cite that research in your own case.  

The CORE Library Research Guide on Scholarly Publishing:  Where to Publish contains more information on predatory publishing.  

Online Source Material for Cases

Quality Improvement

Case studies of healthcare organizations focused on improvements are a common strategy used to explore how successes and failures can be replicated.  Try the following resources for case studies that focus on healthcare organizations as businesses.

Search Research Guides