Case study research: building the occupational therapy evidence base one case at a time

Leona McQuaid*, Katie Thomson, Katrina Bannigan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
421 Downloads (Pure)


Background: There is growing recognition in healthcare that evidence from randomised controlled trials may not be appropriate to answer the full spectrum of practice-based questions and a more pluralistic approach is needed.
Aim: To consider the use of case study research in contributing to the occupational therapy evidence base.
Material and methods: A critical discussion of the current state of evidence-based practice in occupational therapy and exploration of a viable approach to case study research is used.
Results: Case study research can capture the context and complexity of occupational therapy practice. Cases can then be pooled to make a substantial contribution to the evidence base.
Conclusions: Occupational therapists should consider the use of case study research to produce practice related, meaningful research. Journal editorial boards need to be mindful of the value of high-quality case study research when considering publication priorities in occupational therapy literature.
Significance: Highlights a changing landscape in the literature about how best to conduct research in health and social care, particularly for complex interventions and describes a pragmatic approach to case study research for occupational therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-443
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number4
Early online date16 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023


  • occupational therapy
  • research methods
  • evidence-based practice
  • case study research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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