Evaluating single-subject treatment research: lessons learned from the aphasia literature

Neuropsychol Rev. 2006 Dec;16(4):161-9. doi: 10.1007/s11065-006-9013-7.


The mandate for evidence-based practice has prompted careful consideration of the weight of the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of various clinical treatments. In the field of aphasia, a large number of single-subject research studies have been conducted, providing clinical outcome data that are potentially useful for clinicians and researchers; however, it has been difficult to discern the relative potency of these treatments in a standardized manner. In this paper we describe an approach to quantify treatment outcomes for single-subject research studies using effect sizes. These values provide a means to compare treatment outcomes within and between individuals, as well as to compare the relative strength of various treatments. Effect sizes also can be aggregated in order to conduct meta-analyses of specific treatment approaches. Consideration is given to optimizing research designs and providing adequate data so that the value of treatment research is maximized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Aphasia / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection*
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Treatment Outcome