What's the difference between case study and care plan?

Students General Students Nursing Q/A


HI, I'm in block one,

I have my first case study next week. What is the difference between a case study and care plan?

We are told to use various formats such as;

A assessment

D diagnosis/with at least two (NANDA) diagnoses

P plan

I implementation

E evaluation

I'm aware of the info and concept, but I wish I could see an example of a case study just to assure myself I'm on the right track.

I do have a nursing care plan book/mosby.

Thank you

4 Answers


109 Posts

A case study is when u analyze or report about the status of the patient. It includes the assessment, patho-physio of the disease, etc. It's more general. Care plan includes the ones that you put above. U can incorporate the care plan in the case study.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

You may already know this, but as you are a new nursing student, I'll offer this friendly warning. As different schools and different instructors may use the terms in a slightly different way, it's risky to rely on other people for the answer to your question. Your school/instructor probably has specific requirements for its case studies (or care plans) and someone outside that school would not be aware of that.

A lot of students hesitate to ask questions in class because they don't like drawing attention to themselves. I see this all the time. I'll teach a class and then say, "Does anybody have any questions?" and everyone sits there silently. Then, as soon as I release them from class, a small crowd gathers around me with the questions they SHOULD have asked when given the chance. Many of them have the same question and it would have saved us all a lot of time and trouble if one of them would have the gumption to ask it publically so that we could clear it up for everyone at the same time.

Books, articles, strangers on the internet, etc. can give you some information about the topic in general (that might be correct or incorrect). But even the best general sources can't know the particular preferences of your faculty.

So ... Talk to your instructor first. If you still have questions, tell her that you need a little more clarification. If you are still having questions after that, seek help within your school -- upperclassmen are often a good source of information and many schools have tutoring services, etc. The general information you'll get from outside sources may be helpful in broadening your understanding of the big picture, it may add to your confusion if your faculty has specific requirements that don't exactly match those of the author.

Good luck with school.


Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

Hi, iggyangel!  Block one! And already a case study! I'm assuming you've had no patients, am I right? Therefore, what is going to happen is you'll most likely be given information about a hypothetical "Patient" for you to do a care plan on just as if they really existed. The difference is that you won't have the opportunity to actually see and assess a real person. So, parts of the normal data gathering process are going to come from information you will glean from a variety of textbooks to help you out. This is generally the way most case studies in nursing school are done in order to help nursing students develop an appreciation of how the nursing process works as well as to learn something about the treatment and care of specific illnesses that people have.

I do think you may have gotten a bit confused about what you have in your notes. Adpie is the nursing process. Each letter of the acronym, adpie, stands for one part of the care planning process. A care plan is merely the written result of putting all those elements together. However, in actuality, a nurse on the job is constantly thinking about a patient's care in terms of the entire nursing process all the time. It's just that committing it to paper seems to be the monkey wrench that fouls up the works for most people! Part of the reason is because it forces you to slow your thinking down to break this process down into it's component parts.

Your nursing care plan book, the one written by betty ackley isn't it, is a good one. Ackley updated all her care plan books in 2005 to reflect the newest changes from nanda (north american nursing diagnosis association). In the very first chapters should be a discussion about the care planning process and adpie. I strongly recommend that you read those early chapters in the book that discuss this. Don't just read them once, but several times at different seating sessions until you get an inkling of what is being said. That information will help you as you go through this necessary process in nursing school of writing case studies and care plans. After all, your grades are going to depend on how well you do these assignments.

The early chapter discussions in your care plan book will guide you as to how your assessment is used to determine the nursing diagnoses you pick, which leads to the nursing interventions (plan) you decide upon and implement and, finally, the evaluation of the plan.

Generally, in case studies where you don't have an actual patient, the assessment data comes from the information that you are given in the scenario your instructor presents you as well as information (signs, symptoms, treatment) you will look up about the actual medical disease, if you are given the name of an actual medical disease to work with. Sometimes you will need to look up the pathophysiology of a disease to include with the presentation. This is an instructor's choice, so you need to find out if that is something your instructor will want or not.

As the previous poster wrote in reply to you, check with your instructor for specifics about this assignment. In fact, start making a list of questions today to take into class with you. Don't leave class until they have all been answered satisfactorily. Remember, it's your grade, not mine. I can help you with putting a care plan together, but I'm not the one sitting in your classroom getting the instructions you have to follow.


3 Posts

Thank you all for your input and help.

I will read up more and talk to my teacher and upper class students.'



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