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Publishing Your Research: Publishing Case Reports

Guide to Getting Published

What is a Case Report?

Case reports have historically been important in

(1) recognizing new or rare diseases

(2) evaluating the therapeutic effects, adverse events, and costs of interventions; and

(3) improving problem-based medical education                                                                         .

Case reports provide evidence for effectiveness in a real-world setting, whereas clinical trials provide evidence for the efficacy of interventions in a controlled setting. Case reports today make up an increasing percentage of the articles in peer reviewed medical journals and have improved our understanding of AIDS and Zika virus infections and the side effects of thalidomide. Clinician assessed outcomes can be reported in case reports, patient reported outcome measures such as PROMIS developed by the NIH or the SF-12 developed by RAND mesure patient assessed outcomes. Systematic data collection from the point of following the CARE guidelines provides evidence documenting the effectiveness—or harms—of interventions and also provides feedback on clinical practice guidelines. (excerpted from CARE.org)

Writing Case Reports

2013 CARE Checklist  (Case Reports Guidelines)

  1. Title – The area of focus and “case report” should appear in the title
  2. Key Words – Two to five key words that identify topics in this case report
  3. Abstract – (structure or unstructured)
    1. Introduction – What is unique and why is it important?
    2. The patient’s main concerns and important clinical findings.
    3. The main diagnoses, interventions, and outcomes.
    4. Conclusion—What are one or more “take-away” lessons?
  4. Introduction – Briefly summarize why this case is unique with medical literature references.
  5. Patient Information
    1. De-identified demographic and other patient information.
    2. Main concerns and symptoms of the patient.
    3. Medical, family, and psychosocial history including genetic information.
    4. Relevant past interventions and their outcomes.
  6. Clinical Findings – Relevant physical examination (PE) and other clinical findings.
  7. Timeline – Relevant data from this episode of care organized as a timeline (figure or table).
  8. Diagnostic Assessment
    1. Diagnostic methods (PE, laboratory testing, imaging, surveys).
    2. Diagnostic challenges.
    3. Diagnostic reasoning including differential diagnosis.
    4. Prognostic characteristics when applicable.
  9. Therapeutic Intervention
    1. Types of intervention (pharmacologic, surgical, preventive).
    2. Administration of intervention (dosage, strength, duration).
    3. Changes in the interventions with explanations.
  10. Follow-up and Outcomes
    1. Clinician and patient-assessed outcomes when appropriate.
    2. Important follow-up diagnostic and other test results.
    3. Intervention adherence and tolerability (how was this assessed)?
    4. Adverse and unanticipated events.
  11. Discussion
    1. Strengths and limitations in your approach to this case.
    2. Discussion of the relevant medical literature.
    3. The rationale for your conclusions.
    4. The primary “take-away” lessons from this case report.
  12. Patient Perspective – The patient can share their perspective on their case.
  13. Informed Consent – The patient should give informed consent. See Committee on Publication Ethics. Journals’ Best Practices for Ensuring Consent for Publishing Medical Case Reports: guidance from COPE 

Where to Publish?

Review the above list for publishers of case reports.  The Library has reviewed this list and they are all from reputable publishers. Some of these are Open Access and some are traditional subscription-based journals (article processing fees may be subject to change).

The references below offer lists and suggestions of journals that accept and/or specialize in publishing case reports.  Note that we have not vetted ever journal listed and the same it is your responsibility to check the reputation before you submit.  Refer to our other guide on Predatory Publishing.

Also check your favorite journals to see if they accept case reports.

Patient Reported Outcomes

PROMIS® is a publicly available system of highly reliable, precise measures of patient-reported health status for physical, mental, and social well-being. This web-based resource can be used to measure health symptoms and health-related quality of life domains such as pain, fatigue, depression, and physical function, which are relevant to a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer. PROMIS was successful in addressing the lack of standardization in patient-reported outcomes (PROs); although many ways to measures PROs existed, there had been little comparability among them. 

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