In nursing research, qualitative case study methodology (QCSM) had been inadequately reviewed until the publication of Anthony and Jack’s (2009) paper in a recent issue of JAN. This paper enriches our understanding of where, why and how QCSM has been used, and how QCSM is reported in nursing. Anthony and Jack have made a significant contribution with respect to three under-explored topics: (1) the need to be aware of the distinction between nursing research and other healthcare research; (2) that the many meanings of the term ‘qualitative’ in nursing research should be defined and repositioned; and (3) that the acceptance of new methodology in nursing research should be promoted. Based on the contents of Anthony and Jack’s (2009)JAN paper, I invite nurse researchers around the world to think about these three issues in relation to QCSM in nursing.

First, QCSM is a positive sign of the confusion that exists about the name, nature and use of case studies in nursing research. Features of the interpretative approach in qualitative studies are commonly found, like the fluidity and flexibility of the research process, the contextual basis for research questions and research method, and the multi-dimensional quality and interpretation of the research results. All these might create confusion, which can be regarded as a merit of QCSM, and go beyond the standardization and rigidity of quantitative research designs and, therefore, come closer to nursing as a human encounter with patients and a helping profession.

Secondly, international consensus needs to be developed about the commonalities and distinctness of QCSM between nursing and other professions, particularly health-related professions. The rationale is to promote the cross-disciplinary sharing, collaboration and mutual support. At the same time, as nurse researchers, we can develop our own knowledge and approach to using QCSM. Eventually, nursing research can contribute to a very unique knowledge base on how QCSM has been used, and about its importance and limitations.

Thirdly, the timeframe of selection of the published work on QCSM in nursing research cited by Anthony and Jack (2009) was confined to the period 2005–2007. It would be worthwhile to continue their meaningful and pioneering study from 2008 onwards because the case study approach in nursing is becoming even more popular. With the benefit of additional and more up-to-date knowledge on why and how QCSM is being used, our understanding of its usages will be further enhanced: for example, which specialties and which educational and training backgrounds are typical of nurse researchers who are interested in QCSM.

In conclusion, the case study approach has great potential in nursing research and yet there is still a great deal that we need to understand about what QCSM is, why it is being adopted, and how it is being conceptualized and implemented. What are the outcomes of adopting QCSM? Anthony and Jack’s (2009)JAN paper is enjoyable and encouraging, as it offers food for thought about QCSM and about nursing research more generally. Further dialogue should be promoted so as to ensure that nursing research keeps up with other disciplines in terms of usage and development of QCSM, but in a way that is most beneficial to nursing.


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