Case study: a bridge across the paradigms

Nurs Inq. 2006 Jun;13(2):103-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2006.00309.x.


Case study as a teaching and research tool has an extensive history in health and social sciences. Despite its suitability for many of the research questions that face nurses, nurses have not fully embraced case study as a comprehensive approach for research. The vagaries of the real-life clinical setting can confound methodologically purist researchers. Case study provides a milieu in which nurse researchers can respond to these vagaries and move towards a paradigmatic openness. In this paper, we argue that case study offers, as yet, under-explored and under-utilised potential as a bridge across the traditional research paradigms. We argue that case study has broad research application and epistemological, ontological and methodological flexibility. When used as a research approach, case study is both the process and end product of research. It provides a delineated boundary for inquiry, and a structural process within which any methods appropriate to investigating a research area can be applied.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bias
  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Models, Nursing
  • Nursing Records*
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Theory
  • Philosophy, Nursing*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Research Personnel / psychology