Lessons learnt: Examining the use of case-study methodology for nursing research in the context of palliative care

Paula Brogan, Felicity Hasson (Contributor), Sonja J McIlfatrick (Contributor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: An empirical social research approach, facilitating in-depth exploration of complex, contemporary contextualised phenomenon, case study research has been used internationally in healthcare studies across clinical settings, to explore systems and processes of care delivery. In the United Kingdom, Case Study methods have been championed by nurse researchers, particularly in the context of community nursing and palliative care provision, where its applicability is well established. Yet, dogged by conceptual confusion, case study remains largely under-utilised as a research approach.
Design: Drawing on examples from nursing and palliative care studies, this paper clarifies case study research, identifies key concepts and considers lessons learned about its potential for nursing research within the unique and complex palliative and end of life context.
Conclusion: A case study approach offers nurse researchers the opportunity for in-depth, contextualised understanding of the systems and processes which influence their role in palliative care delivery across settings. However, philosophical and conceptual understanding are needed and further training in case study methodology is required to enable researchers to articulate and conduct case study.
Key points
• Case study is well suited to nursing research in palliative care contexts, where in-depth understanding of participant experience, complex systems and processes of care within changing contexts is needed.
• Not bound to any single paradigm, nor defined by any methodology, case study’s pragmatism and flexibility makes it useful for studies in palliative
• Training in the underpinning philosophical and conceptual basis of case study methodology, in order to articulate, conduct and report credible case study research, and take advantage of the opportunities it offers for the conduct of palliative and end of life care research
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Sept 2019


  • Case study
  • Palliative Care
  • nursing and health care
  • end of life


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