Dr. Dana Lawrence is past
editor for a number of chiropractic
journals, including the
Journal of Manipulative and
For years, chiropractic
research scientists have
encouraged field chiropractors
to consider writing
a report of a patient case
that has demonstrated a
clear connection between
chiropractic and the
positive results that patient
experienced. In this column,
Senior Director of the Center
for Teaching & Learning Dana
Lawrence, D.C., M.Med.Ed.,
M.A., offers guidance on how to effectively write a case report
and get it published.
Why write a case report?
One of the most important reasons to write case reports is one
of the most simple: we need to share the skills and expertise we
have. If you publish a case report, it may provide another chiropractor
with information he or she could use in taking care of
a patient. Also, this helps us demonstrate our skills to the larger
community of healthcare practitioners, who are not always
informed or cognizant of how skilled we really are.
What type of cases work
best for a case report?
Case reports should first and foremost be educational. That is,
the reader should come away from the paper having learned
something. That something might be a new management strategy
for a difficult condition or a different adjusting procedure that
they otherwise might not have considered. There is no real reason
to publish a case report about the successful management of
a patient with uncomplicated low back pain. What makes case
reports appealing to journal editors—and this is key—is to provide
them with a paper that is interesting, novel, new in some
fashion, or otherwise unusual. Practitioners like reading case
reports when they provide information about managing patients,
while authors like writing them because it allows them to share
information and are relatively easy to prepare. Examples of the
kind of situations leading to case reports would be unusual
responses to therapy (either positive or negative), unusual cases,
cases with co-morbidities, etc.
What should a report include?
Your case report must have specific sections: abstract, introduction,
case report, discussion, conclusion and references.
Within those sections, you will need to include plenty of
detailed information so that someone else may know exactly
what you did. You also will need to include some information
out of the professional literature, so you will need to learn
some basic literature searching skills.
How do I submit a
report to a journal?
It is always a good idea to develop a relationship with a
journal editor. Feel free to contact one and ask if they have
any interest in your paper. Don’t be offended if they do not;
not every paper is appropriate for every journal. There are
many journals to choose from in our profession, including
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Journal
of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, Clinical Chiropractic,
Chiropractic and Manual Therapies, Chiropractic Journal
of Australia and Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics.
All have websites where you can get more specific information
on submission standards.
Does Palmer offer assistance
with writing and
publishing case reports?
Absolutely. You may start by contacting me at (563) 884-5302
or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there a case report
written by a Palmer graduate
that I can use as a reference?
Actually, there are many. You can read one written by Mark
Morningstar II, D.C., Davenport ’02, at http://chiromt.com/