Case studies are an invaluable record of the clinical practices of a profession. While case studies cannot provide specific guidance for the management of successive patients, they are a record of clinical interactions which help us to frame questions for more rigorously designed clinical studies.
Case studies also provide valuable teaching material, demonstrating both classical and unusual presentations which may confront the practitioner. Practitioners generally are not well-practised in writing for publication, and so may hesitate to embark on the task of carrying a case study to publication.
These guidelines are intended to assist the relatively novice writer – practitioner or student – in efficiently navigating the relatively easy course to publication of a quality case study. Guidelines are not intended to be proscriptive, and so throughout this document we advise what authors “may” or “should” do, rather than what they “must” do. Authors may decide that the particular circumstances of their case study justify digression from our recommendations.
The CARE guidelines, developed by an international group of experts, are designed to increase the accuracy, transparency, and usefulness of case reports. Since publication in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology of the 2013 CARE statement and the 2017 CARE elaboration and explanation article, these guidelines have been endorsed by multiple medical journals and translated into more than ten languages. The CARE guidelines support the efforts of the Equator Network to improve the transparency and accuracy of health research reporting. Online training in writing case reports is available from Scientific Writing in Health and Medicine (SWIHM). Here are how some healthcare stakeholder groups benefit when case reports are written following these guidelines: