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Case Study vs. Case History: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 24, 2024
A case study is an in-depth analysis of a specific instance to draw broader insights, whereas a case history is a detailed record of an individual or event's background and development.

Key Differences

Case studies focus on examining specific instances in detail to derive general principles, while case histories compile comprehensive records of an individual or event's past.
Case studies often involve qualitative methods, analyzing a particular situation to gain insights, whereas case histories are more about chronological documentation of past events or experiences.
In business and academia, case studies are used for educational and research purposes to explore complex issues, while case histories are common in medicine and psychology to track individual patients' or subjects' backgrounds.
Case studies provide a deep dive into a specific issue, situation, or example, seeking to understand its complexities, while case histories offer a thorough record of events or experiences over time.
The end goal of a case study is often to apply learned insights to broader contexts or similar situations, while a case history aims to provide a comprehensive background for understanding a current condition or situation.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

In-depth analysis of a specific instance
Detailed record of an individual or event's past


Qualitative analysis, often exploratory or explanatory
Chronological documentation, often descriptive

Common Usage

Business, academia, research
Medicine, psychology, history

Depth of Analysis

Deep, focused on deriving insights
Broad, focused on compiling comprehensive information


To apply findings to broader contexts
To provide background understanding

Case Study and Case History Definitions

Case Study

A systematic inquiry into an event, entity, or individual to draw general conclusions.
The professor used a case study of a historical event to teach important political theories.

Case History

A detailed account of an individual's background and personal history, especially in a medical or psychological context.
The therapist reviewed the patient's case history before starting the treatment.

Case Study

A research method involving a detailed examination of a subject and its related conditions.
Her case study on urban planning highlighted the challenges and successes of city development.

Case History

A chronological record of relevant events and experiences of a person or entity.
The lawyer compiled a comprehensive case history to understand the client's legal background.

Case Study

An intensive study of a single unit with an aim to generalize across a larger set of units.
The case study focused on a single patient's recovery to improve broader healthcare practices.

Case History

A compilation of past incidents and developments that help in understanding a current situation.
The researcher utilized the subject's case history to analyze behavioral patterns.

Case Study

An observational method that provides a detailed account of a phenomenon within its real-life context.
The researcher conducted a case study on local businesses to understand economic impacts.

Case History

A systematic collection of past facts and events about a particular subject or individual.
The case history of the historic building revealed its architectural significance.

Case Study

An in-depth analysis of a single instance to explore or illustrate broader principles.
The case study of a successful startup offered valuable insights into entrepreneurial strategies.

Case History

A record used in clinical practice to track a patient's medical background and treatment history.
The doctor referred to the patient's case history to decide on the best course of action.


How is a case study used in education?

In education, a case study is used to analyze real-life scenarios to apply theoretical knowledge.

What is a case study?

It's an in-depth analysis of a specific instance or event to understand broader concepts.

What role does case history play in medicine?

In medicine, a case history provides detailed patient information to aid in diagnosis and treatment.

Can case studies be used for hypothesis testing?

Yes, case studies can be used to test hypotheses, especially in exploratory research.

How does case history help in psychological treatment?

Case history aids in psychological treatment by providing a comprehensive background of the patient, including past behaviors and experiences.

Is case history important in legal proceedings?

Absolutely, a case history is crucial in legal proceedings to understand the background and past behaviors of individuals or entities.

Can a case study involve multiple cases?

Yes, a case study can involve multiple cases to compare and contrast different scenarios.

What is a case history?

A case history is a detailed chronological record of an individual’s or event's past experiences and developments.

What makes a case study different from a research paper?

A case study is more focused on a specific example or instance, while a research paper covers a broader scope of study.

Why is case history significant in historical research?

Case history is significant in historical research as it provides detailed accounts of past events essential for understanding historical developments.

Is case history only relevant in clinical contexts?

While prevalent in clinical contexts, case history is also relevant in other fields like law and history for background analysis.

Does case history require updating?

Yes, case history needs regular updating to reflect current and relevant information.

What is a key element of a case study in business?

In business, a key element of a case study is analyzing specific business scenarios to derive insights that can be applied more broadly.

How long can a case study be?

The length of a case study varies but typically is detailed and comprehensive.

How does case history assist in patient care?

Case history assists in patient care by providing a comprehensive view of the patient’s medical and treatment history.

What is the main difference between a case study and case history?

A case study is an in-depth analysis for broader learning, while case history is a detailed chronological record for background understanding.

Who uses case histories?

Case histories are used by medical professionals, psychologists, lawyers, and historians.

What skills are needed to write a good case study?

Skills in research, analysis, and the ability to synthesize and interpret data are essential for writing a good case study.

Can case studies be used as teaching tools?

Yes, case studies are excellent teaching tools in academic and professional settings for practical learning.

Can case studies be qualitative or quantitative?

Case studies can be both qualitative and quantitative, depending on the nature of the study.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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