Uncovering Family Treatment Decision-Making Processes: The Value and Application of Case Study Methods to Family Research

J Fam Nurs. 2021 Aug;27(3):191-198. doi: 10.1177/1074840720987223. Epub 2021 Jan 29.


Research on how and why family processes influence phenomena is essential to advancing many areas of science. Case study methods offer an approach that overcomes some of the sampling and analysis obstacles researchers face when studying families. This article aims to illustrate the benefits of case study methods for studying complex family processes using an example from treatment decision-making in sickle cell disease. Using survey, observation, and interview data from various family members within multiple family units, we detail our application of the following analytic strategies: (a) proposition-building, (b) pattern-matching, and (c) cross-case synthesis. Incorporating propositions from a conceptual framework assisted us in study development, data collection, and analysis. Development of graphs and matrices to create thematic family profiles uncovered how and why treatment decision-making occurred as a family process in a pediatric chronic illness. Case study methods are an established, but innovative approach to investigating various phenomena in families.

Keywords: decision-making; decisional conflict; family; multiple-case study; sickle cell disease; stem cell transplant.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Decision Making*
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires