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September 1973

Single-Case Experimental Designs: Uses in Applied Clinical Research

Author Affiliations

Jackson, Miss
From the University of Mississippi Medical Center (Drs. Barlow and Hersen), and the Veterans Administration Center (Dr. Hersen), Jackson, Miss.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(3):319-325. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200030017003

The difficulty of developing and evaluating effective treatments in psychiatry and clinical psychology points out the inadequacy of current research methodology involving comparisons of large groups. An alternative approach firmly founded in the scientific method, but particularly appropriate to the study of complex behavior disorders, is the single-case experimental design. In this paper, examples of different single-case designs actually employed in applied clinical research are presented and discussed. Practical problems arising during the course of research are highlighted and some basic procedures outlined. General questions on variability, representativeness of finidings, and clinical versus statistical significance are briefly discussed.

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