What Makes a Good Case Study?

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What makes a good case study?PDF document

Case studies allow other involvement practitioners from across the public and voluntary sector to benefit from your experience. The following information should be used as a guide to completing the template.

The focus of the case studies should be on the practical application of a participation tool. How did you use patient stories to improve your service? How did you use a user panel to inform the development of a new leaflet? How did you make sure that your comments cards are accessible to all?

Each case study should illustrate one method in action. If you used several approaches in the course of a complex or lengthy piece of work, these should be described in separate case studies.

You should ask yourself the following questions when completing the template:

Is this a clear example of Patient Focus and Public Involvement?

Your case study should be a good example of participation or supporting person-centred care. How did you involve people in planning or delivering the service? How did you ensure their needs were met? Can you describe how their involvement influenced the development or provision of services, care or resources?

What level of involvement did the participants enjoy:

  • People were informed about the services or proposed changes
  • People were asked for information or opinions to help shape a service or policy
  • You responded to what people said
  • People were involved in shared decision making in taking forward change and improvement
  • Power was delegated to people, helping them to support the NHS

Is the case study sufficiently general, and sufficiently detailed?

Your case study describes a specific piece of work, in a specific location – but your readers will want to be able to apply the general principles or lessons to their own situation.

Is there enough detail included to ensure someone could learn from your experience? Would your case study and the additional information you have attached help a colleague to replicate the approach you used? What advice would you give someone who was considering a similar piece of work?

Have you reflected on your practice?

When a piece of work is done, it is very helpful to reflect on what approaches have worked well, and which have not. It is especially important to consider “What have I learned?"

Your case study should assess the methodology you used. Did it work well, ensuring that your objectives were met? Did this method of involving people meet their needs sufficiently? Could anything have been done to improve the approach? On reflection, was this the best approach to use, or would you do things differently if you had to repeat this work in future?

Does the case study clearly illustrate one of the approaches in the Participation Toolkit?

The Scottish Health Council’s Participation Toolkit contains a list of tried-and-tested techniques for involving people, as well as some more innovative methods. Does your case study demonstrate the practical application of one of the approaches from the Toolkit? Did you have to adapt the standard approach so that it met the needs of a particular individual or group?

Did you use a different methodology that we might add to the Toolkit in future? If so, please tell us more!


See also our quick guides to Top Tips for Case Studies and The National Standards for Community Engagement.