Single-subject experimental design for evidence-based practice

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2012 Nov;21(4):397-414. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0036). Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Purpose: Single-subject experimental designs (SSEDs) represent an important tool in the development and implementation of evidence-based practice in communication sciences and disorders. The purpose of this article is to review the strategies and tactics of SSEDs and their application in speech-language pathology research.

Method: The authors discuss the requirements of each design, followed by advantages and disadvantages. The logic and methods for evaluating effects in SSED are reviewed as well as contemporary issues regarding data analysis with SSED data sets. Examples of challenges in executing SSEDs are included. Specific exemplars of how SSEDs have been used in speech-language pathology research are provided throughout.

Conclusion: SSED studies provide a flexible alternative to traditional group designs in the development and identification of evidence-based practice in the field of communication sciences and disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication Disorders / therapy*
  • Education, Continuing
  • Evidence-Based Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Speech Disorders / therapy*
  • Speech-Language Pathology / methods
  • Speech-Language Pathology / standards*