How to write an effective case study
As Aromatherapists, it is our job to carefully document each
session with our clients, as well as any follow up information. Documentation of our observations from our
practice provide valuable information
to be shared with others who endeavor to learn from our experiences and
practices. Whether to pass on
information in general, or to share our knowledge with those who intend to replicate our efforts to see if they obtain
the same effect, or produce an adverse effect that can be shared as a warning
to other Aromatherapists. Whatever the
outcome, it is beneficial to all and the growing body of knowledge.
Case studies, while not at the top level of the pecking order of
research, they are notably valuable since they play a major role in alerting
professionals in our industry to possible adverse reactions and form a integral
part of safety in our treatments. Sharing your experience through case studies can be a valuable
contribution to the development of the practice of Aromatherapy and may help to
inspire additional research that moves Aromatherapy forward with the
introduction of new therapeutic theories
How well you articulate your findings will influence the benefit
of your report. You need not fill it
with a lot of scientific, complex or
“heady” vocabulary. You are likely to garner more interest if
your case study is clearly written and well-reasoned.
The intention of this article, and the format contained herein,
is to help you plan and report. The
template provides a checklist to ensure that all essential information has been
included in your documentation.
Case study outline
When planning a case study report,
consider the “Recommended Layout” as shown below. This should not be regarded as a rigid
structure, but is intended to help the Aromatherapist plan and report, and act
as a check list that all essential information has been included.
of the case
Since case reports are highly
individual, and may be re-published in the general media or on the internet,
there is the possibility that someone who knows the client may see the report
and recognize the client. Confidentiality must be assured and clients must be
made aware of your intention to publish their case.
- State the age
of the client and give relevant health history; including medications,
herbal, dietary supplements and homeopathic medicines.
experiences with CAM and purpose for treatment should be clearly written.
The aims and objectives need to be
stated with clear thought and understanding.
- The selection of essential oils, vegetable oil
and hydrolats requires both
botanical and common name when first mentioned; rationale as to their
selection and formulation should be provided. Formulations and dosages should ideally
be expressed in terms of percentages.
- The method of essential oil application must be
documented, as well as any techniques described, as applicable.
- The duration of sessions and frequency of
treatment sessions should be noted.
response to treatment
- Observations during treatment. Note immediate client responses and
those followed up at subsequent treatment sessions.
- State here the assessment of the treatment from
the client’s perspective; what did you learn from your experience and the
results (or lack thereof) by the treatment from the protocol of treatment
- Be careful about drawing a ‘conclusion’ that
there is a link between the Aromatherapy treatment and the effect in a
single case: it could just be a
- Remember it is only a record of your experience
so ideally include an assessment of how far it can be regarded as
rationale is given regarding essential oil selection, application method/technique
selected, the source that influenced your selection should be referenced. All statements, opinions, conclusions,
etc taken from another writer’s work should be acknowledged, whether work is directly
quoted, paraphrased or summarized.
- The report
should use the Harvard method of referencing. This is a system in which names and
dates are given in the body of the text and the references are listed
alphabetically at the end of the report.
more information on Harvard referencing visit
http://education.exeter.ac.uk/dll/studyskills/harvard_referencing.htm There is also a referencing tool located
Notes regarding writing style:
- Keep sentences short. Use short paragraphs.
- Avoid complex sentence structures that bore or
- Design a case study to be read by someone who
wants to grasp the main points easily.
- Lay it out clearly. Avoid large sections of text.
- Demonstrate clear thought and reasoning.
- Avoid jargon, abbreviations or colloquialisms.
- Obtain feedback from a friend or colleague.
Layout for a case study:
- Author(‘s), credentials, addresses and
- Description of the case
- Treatment protocol
- Treatment methods
- Client response
study writing tips
sentences short. Use short
- Avoid complex
sentence structures that bore or confuse readers.
- Design the
case study to be read by a busy reader, who wants to grasp the main
- Lay it out
clearly; avoid large areas of text.
clear thought and reasoning.
- Avoid jargon,
abbreviations and colloquialisms
feedback from a colleague or friend.
- The IJPHA encourages the submission of case
studies from students and practitioners throughout the year. Send submissions to: [email protected]
Essence. 7 (1).