Evidence-Based Case Study Guidelines: Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics issues an open call for authors to submit an Evidence-Based Case Study for possible publication. Developing such a series of Evidence-Based Case Studies will be extremely useful in advancing the evidence for group psychology and group psychotherapy. Group practice for this call is defined broadly to include therapy groups, teams, organizations, and other group contexts.

The goal of these Evidenced-Based Case Studies is to integrate verbatim case material from the group with standardized empirical measures of process and outcome evaluated at different times during the life of the group, team or organization. That is, authors should describe vignettes highlighting key interventions, processes, and mechanisms regarding their specific approach in the context of empirical scales.

Such an investigation will provide much needed information to bridge the gap between research and practice. Evidence-based case studies will also provide an important model of how to integrate basic research into applied work in therapy, team, and organizational contexts. This will open an avenue for publication to those in full time private practice, those who work primarily as consultants, or organizations and teams that integrate research measures into their applied work. Finally, this approach to studying group phenomena may provide a list of systematic case studies from various forms of treatment and interventions that meet the American Psychological Association’s criteria for Evidence-Based Practice (APA, 2006) as well as the Clinical Utility dimension in the Criteria for Evaluating Treatment Guidelines (APA, 2002).

Authors who are interested in preparing an Evidence-Based Case Study must follow these guidelines:

  1. The report must include the assessment (from the individual group member or independent rater perspective at the group level, but not only the therapist/leader) of at least two standardized empirical outcome measures related to team, organization, or group objective. Optimally, such a report would include several outcome measures assessing a wide array of functioning such as: global functioning, team or organizational objectives, target symptoms, subjective well-being, interpersonal functioning, social/occupational functioning, and measures of personality,
  2. The report must also include at least one empirical process measure (e.g., therapeutic alliance, session depth, emotional experiencing, team functioning, organizational cohesion) evaluated on at least three separate occasions.
  3. At minimum, specific outcome data should be presented using standardized mean difference (i.e. effect size) and clinical significance methodology (i.e. unchanged, reliable change, movement into functional distribution, clinically significant change, and deterioration [see Jacobson et al. 1999]). Group Dynamics encourages submission of both successful and unsuccessful cases. In addition, it might be instructive to compare and contrast the technical interventions that occurred during a positive change case with that of an unchanged or deteriorated case from the same approach.

The Evidence-Based Case Study section is not necessarily for advanced statistical time series analyses of process or outcome data, although such articles would be welcomed. Simple analyses of standardized outcome measures by way of clinical significance and effect size methods are sufficient.

  1. Verbatim vignettes with several group participant and therapist/leader turns highlighting key interventions, processes, and mechanisms of change must be provided. Discussion of any therapeutic or group-level interventions should not be presented only from a global or abstract perspective.
  2. Manuscripts must be within the journal word limit as indicated on the journal web site.
  3. Appropriate informed consent must be obtained from participants, and the study must be approved by an internal review board. The author must indicate that vignettes were sufficiently de-identified to protect confidentiality and privacy.

The following provide examples of what an Evidence-Based Case Study article might look like:

Granasen, M. & Andersson, D. (2016). Measuring team effectiveness in cyber-defense exercises: A cross-disciplinary case study, Cognition, Technology & Work, 18, 121–143.

This study reported on simulated exercises to assess team functioning and effectiveness in repelling cyber attacks. Team performance (outcome), team cognition (processes within teams) were assessed and reported. The authors provided recommendations to enhance team performance. However, missing from this case study were vignettes to illustrate the concepts.

Maxwell, K., Callahan, J. L., Holtz, P., Janis, B. M., Gerber, M. M., & Connor, D. R. (2016). Comparative study of group treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychotherapy, 53, 433-445.

The authors assessed a new potential group treatment for PTSD compared to cognitive processing therapy  (CPT) as a pre-cursor to a randomized controlled trial. Two groups from each treatment type were compared. The authors measured outcomes but did not provide process measures. Several clinical vignettes illustrate the treatments.

Tasca, G. A., Foot, M., Leite, C., Maxwell, H., Balfour, L., & Bissada, H. (2011). Interpersonal processes in psychodynamic-interpersonal and cognitive behavioral group therapy: A systematic case study of two groups. Psychotherapy, 48, 260-273.

Outcomes were measured outcomes pre- and post-treatment (effect sizes and reliable change indices) comparing two group therapists who were highly adherent to their specific treatment approach. The authors measured interpersonal processes at three time points from observer ratings of video recordings. Outcomes were measured using standardized scales. Clinical vignettes illustrated the differing interpersonal styles between the two group therapists.

Authors who have conducted an effectiveness or efficacy trial on a particular type of intervention in which they collected standardized process and outcome measures in addition to the use of audio/videotape of sessions should consider submitting an Evidence-Based Case Study. Likewise, a clinician in private practice, or a team or organizational consultant who would like to add these elements at the start of a new or existing group or team should also consider submitting an Evidence-Based Case Study.

Group Dynamics will begin accepting submissions for Evidence-Based Case Studies starting January 2019.  Anyone who may have an interest in submitting an Evidence-Based Case Study is encouraged to contact the editor.

References

American Psychological Association, (2002). Criteria for evaluating treatment guidelines. American Psychologist, 57, 1052–1059.

American Psychological Association, (2006). Evidence-based practice in psychology. American Psychologist, 61, 271–285.

Jacobson, N., Roberts, L., Berns, S., & McGlinchey, J. (1999). Methods for defining and determining the clinical significance of treatment effects: Description, application, and alternatives. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 300–307.



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