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date: 16 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter covers single-case experimental designs and small pilot trial designs, beginning with a review of the history of single-case experimental designs. Such designs can play key roles in each stage of treatment development and evaluation. During the earliest stages of treatment development and testing, single-case experimental designs clarify functional relationships between treatment and symptoms. After a treatment has been formalized, a series of replicating single-case experiments in conjunction with randomized clinical trials can contribute meaningful information to efficacy evaluations. After a treatment has demonstrated robust efficacy in large-scale clinical trials, single-case designs can speak to the generalizability and transportability of treatment efficacy by demonstrating the successful application of established treatments when flexibly applied to individuals, or in settings, that may vary in important and meaningful ways. Specific designs covered include A-B designs, basic withdrawal designs (i.e., A-B-A trials), extensions of the traditional withdrawal design (e.g., A-B-A-B designs, B-A-B-A designs, and A-B-C-B designs), multiple-baseline trials, and small pilot trial designs, all of which assess treatment effects in a systematic manner with a relatively small number of participants. We conclude with a call for increased utilization of single-case experimental designs in clinical psychology treatment outcomes research.

Keywords: Single-case experimental designs, multiple-baseline designs, withdrawal designs, treatment outcomes research, idiographic and nomothetic group design evaluations

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