Single-case experimental designs: Applications in developmental-behavioral pediatrics

Raymond C. Tervo, Theresa L. Estrem, William Bryson-Brockmann, Frank J. Symons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article discusses single-case experimental designs (SCEDs) and their relevance to developmental-behavioral pediatrics. Information concerning SCEDs have not been described in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, despite its relevance to the field. General issues related to the underlying logic and applications of SCEDs are reviewed with examples selected from the literature to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of different design strategies. It is suggested that SCEDs can be a useful alternative to traditional between-group designs for clinical and evaluation research because the unit of the analysis is the individual; therefore the feedback to clinicians and families is direct about the effectiveness of a behavioral intervention or medication for that individual. In the field of developmental-behavioral pediatrics, SCEDs can be especially useful in the management of vague symptoms or poorly defined diseases to improve the confidence in a treatment decision for an individual patient. This report is intended to facilitate the understanding and use of single-case methodology so that clinicians are aware that flexible, true experiential designs exist to fill the gap in knowledge and also "do the best for my patient".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-448
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Applications
  • N of 1 randomized controlled trials


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