Research: THOMPSON,

Listed in Issue 107


THOMPSON, department of General Practice, University of Glasgow, UK,, reflects on the application of qualitative research methods to the design of case studies in homeopathy.


There are two main research designs being used in homeopathic research: clinical trials and case studies. This paper discusses these and proposes a 'middle way'.



The Formal Case Study is a design in which qualitative methods are used to increase the rigour and sophistication with which homeopathic cases are reported. A selection of possible internal and external research questions is introduced. Data generation should be from multiple sources to ensure adequate triangulation. Analysis is built around existing theory, includes cross-comparison between cases and a search for deviant cases. Concepts from qualitative research are applied to conclusions including triangulation, groundedness, respondent validation and reflexivity.


This paper introduces the Formal Case Study, a design that allows for a naturalistic enquiry into the processes and outcomes of homeopathic medicine.


Thompson TD. Can the caged bird sing? Reflections on the applications of qualitative research methods to case study design in homeopathic medicine. BMC Medical Research Methodology 4 (1): 4, 9 Feb 2004.

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