Case Studies in Clinical Psychology: Are We Giving up a Publication Type and Methodology in Research on and Teaching of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy?

  •  Dorothea Krampen    
  •  Günter Krampen    


Scientometric results on publication trends in clinical psychology, which refer to publication type and methodology of case studies/reports, are presented. Absolute and relative frequencies of clinical case studies are identified for the segment “mental and behavioral disorders” in MEDLINE (ICD-10 Chapter V [F]) as well as for clinical psychology publications documented in PsycINFO and PSYNDEX in 40 publication years (1975-2014). Results show an increase of the absolute number of published case studies documented in MEDLINE and PsycINFO (but not in PSYNDEX), which is highly correlated with the total increase of clinical psychology publications in both databases. Relative frequencies show another picture, namely a drop of the percentage of case studies on mental and behavioral disorders in MEDLINE, and a sharp drop in PSYNDEX since the 1980s. The trend for the relative frequency of case studies within all publications on clinical psychology documented in PsycINFO is V-shaped with 6% in the 1970s, 3% in the early 1990s, and 4-5% after the millennium. Pros and cons of case studies in clinical psychology research and education are discussed. Qualitative and quantitative case study methodologies are distinguished with respect to the phases of clinical trials and observational studies in evidence-based and empirically supported psychotherapy. Subsequently, methodological constraints are balanced with specific values in clinical training, applied research, and innovative research on the symptomatology, etiology, and classification of mental disorders as well as on combined and/or integrative treatment techniques and methods.


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