Single-Case Research Methods for the Behavioral and Health Sciences


David L. Morgan & Robin K. Morgan

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    A decade ago, this book may have been seen as useful to only a small population of applied researchers, particularly applied behavior analysts. Because behavior analysts have been longtime supporters of single-case research, in both its basic and applied domains, the philosophy and design strategies discussed in this book will appear quite familiar to these professionals. But the increasing managed care landscape, coupled with multidisciplinary calls for evidence-based practice, has engendered substantial dialogue about and exploration of alternative research strategies. This change has been especially felt by practitioners who are being called upon to document the effectiveness of the health care interventions they deliver to clients. This requirement has historically gone unmet because the strategies and tactics of large group research designs have been unwieldy, if not impossible to implement in applied settings. We hope that the readers of this book will come to recognize that the goals of science and practice, so often and for so long viewed as disconnected, are in fact quite compatible. Indeed, even as this book was being written, numerous single-case studies were being published in professional journals in psychology, nursing, occupational and physical therapy, and social work. We think that you'll agree that this is a welcome development, not only for the sciences that inform professional practice but also for the citizens who ultimately stand to benefit from the establishment of evidence-based health care.

    This book is the collaborative product of a great deal of work by some very talented people, including the very capable staff at Sage Publications. We would like to thank the following reviewers for investing both their time and intellectual energy in making this a much better book than it would have otherwise been: Neville Blampied, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand; Maureen E. Angell, Illinois State University; and J. Michael Crowley, Oregon State University. We are especially grateful to Dennis McDougall at the University of Hawaii. With considerable diligence and a keen eye, Dennis went above and beyond the call of duty in providing editorial support, cogent recommendations, and suggested revisions through both drafts of the manuscript. Finally, we are fortunate to have worked with a supportive and professional editorial staff at Sage. Writing a textbook is an enormous challenge, requiring substantial coordination and timely correspondence with everyone involved. We are thankful to have had Lisa Cuevas-Shaw, Sean Connelly, Vicki Knight, and Karen Wiley onboard to make this process manageable and relatively anxiety free. We are especially indebted to Kathy Savadel, whose copyediting “magic” was rendered with great skill and professionalism, making the process much smoother than any author could anticipate.

    For students and faculty: It would be hard to imagine more valuable feedback regarding this book than could be offered by those of you working in the trenches. Your comments and recommendations concerning this book would be greatly appreciated, and we welcome you to correspond with us at and

    David L. Morgan, Spalding University
    Robin K. Morgan, Indiana University Southeast
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    About the Authors

    David L. Morgan obtained his PhD in experimental psychology, with an emphasis in human operant behavior, from Auburn University in 1988. He is currently a professor in the School of Professional Psychology at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he has been teaching since 1990. Dr. Morgan has published research articles in numerous behavioral journals and has taught research methodology courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at several institutions, including Spalding University. He is the author of Essentials of Learning and Cognition.

    Robin K. Morgan obtained her PhD in clinical psychology from Auburn University in 1988. She is currently a professor at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana, where she has been teaching since 1988. Dr. Morgan has worked in both inpatient psychiatric and medical settings as well as outpatient settings, including private practice, with child, adolescent, and adult clients running the gamut of psychological disorders. Dr. Morgan has published articles in several journals and has been recognized for her excellence in teaching. She is the author of Case Studies in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology and has written and edited several additional books related to college teaching.

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