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What are case reports?
- A case report is a formal process of communicating with others about a unique clinical situation
- Case reports offer an avenue of communication between providers, enabling a formal and scholarly process of sharing of information and experiences that may be relevant to others
- Case reports represent a first line of evidence
- Case reports often describe positive responses to care. However, they can also describe uncommon symptom presentations, poor responses, unusual or rare conditions, or other unusual clinical encounters.
What case reports are not:
- Case reports are not research. Instead, they are descriptions of what was observed or occurred in clinical settings
- Case reports are not designed to determine cause and effect relationships. Even though one event precipitates another, fostering a unique experience worthy of a case report, such events do not represent evidence for causation. Specific forms of scientific research are required to address causality
- Case reports are not high-quality scientific evidence. However, they can offer the first glimpse of emerging conditions, clinical situations, and knowledge that can potentially be very informative
- Case reports are not obsolete. They are a vital method of scholarly communication that fosters
- scientific writing and critical decision-making skills;
- communication among providers of similar and disparate disciplines;
- education by the sharing of learned lessons;
- the identification of rare manifestations of conditions and/or response to care;
- the identification of new trends
What is a case series?
- A case series is a case report in plural. However, for a few different reasons, some case series are considered research. So, anyone considering a case series should first consult with an institutional review board.
- When a case series is not considered research, institutional review board approval is technically not a requirement. However, the only way to know this for certain is to seek institutional review board approval for any case series.
- To publish a case series, scientific journals may require either an approval or exemption letter from an institutional review board. Exemption letters describe ethical review of the project and specifically state the characteristics of the project that make approval unnecessary.
- Institutional review board approval or exemption must be sought prior to beginning a project involving a case series. Seeking approval or exemption after a project is conducted or a manuscript drafted is too late.
What journals publish case reports?
- Several journals publish case reports relevant to chiropractic care. A sample list is below.
What about consent and privacy concerns?
- Most scientific journals require authors to submit consent forms signed by patients about whom case reports are written. Some journals have specific consent forms, which may also suggest or require patients review the manuscript prior to journal submission.
- To avoid inadvertent disclosure of protected information, case reports should be written such that it is not possible for others to identify a person about whom a report is written.
Content approved by the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research
Examples of case reports involving chiropractic care
Minkalis, A. L., & Vining, R. D. (2015). What is the pain source? A case report of a patient with low back pain and bilateral hip osteonecrosis. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 59(3), 300–310.
Murphy D.R. & Morris N.J. (2006). Cervical epidural abscess in an afebrile patient: A case report. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, 29(8), 672–675. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2006.08.001
Vining, R. D., Gosselin, D. M., Thurmond, J., Case, K., & Bruch, F. R. (2017). Interdisciplinary rehabilitation for a patient with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury and multimorbidity. Medicine, 96(34), e7837.
Articles on writing case reports
Florek, A. G., & Dellavalle, R. P. (2016). Case reports in medical education: A platform for training medical students, residents, and fellows in scientific writing and critical thinking. Journal of Medical Case Reports, 10(1), 86. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13256-016-0851-5
Garg, R., Lakhan, S. E., & Dhanasekaran, A. K. (2016). How to review a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports, 10(1), 88. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13256-016-0853-3
Green, B. N., & Johnson, C. D. (2006). How to write a case report for publication. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 5(2), 72–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0899-3467(07)60137-2
Guidelines To Writing A Clinical Case Report. (2017). Heart views : the official journal of the Gulf Heart Association, 18(3), 104–105. https://doi.org/10.4103/1995-705X.217857
Rison, R. A. (2013). A guide to writing case reports for the Journal of Medical Case Reports and BioMed Central Research Notes. Journal of Medical Case Reports, 7(1), 239. https://doi.org/10.1186/1752-1947-7-239
Trager, R. J., & Dusek, J. A. (2021). Chiropractic case reports: a review and bibliometric analysis. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 29(1), 17–17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-021-00374-5
Books on writing case reports
CARE Case Report Guidelines
CARE Case Report Guidelines
The CARE guidelines (for CAse REports) were developed by an international group of experts to support an increase in the accuracy, transparency, and usefulness of case reports.
Includes guidelines, a checklist, and CARE-writer is an online application that helps authors follow the CARE guidelines as they organize, format and write systematic and transparent case reports and case report preprints.