Method Of Case Study Writing Sample

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The Effects of a Supported Employment Program on Psychosocial Indicators

for Persons with Severe Mental Illness

William M.K. Trochim

Cornell University

Running Head: SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT


Abstract

This paper describes the psychosocial effects of a program of supported employment (SE) for persons with severe mental illness. The SE program involves extended individualized supported employment for clients through a Mobile Job Support Worker (MJSW) who maintains contact with the client after job placement and supports the client in a variety of ways. A 50% simple random sample was taken of all persons who entered the Thresholds Agency between 3/1/93 and 2/28/95 and who met study criteria. The resulting 484 cases were randomly assigned to either the SE condition (treatment group) or the usual protocol (control group) which consisted of life skills training and employment in an in-house sheltered workshop setting. All participants were measured at intake and at 3 months after beginning employment, on two measures of psychological functioning (the BPRS and GAS) and two measures of self esteem (RSE and ESE). Significant treatment effects were found on all four measures, but they were in the opposite direction from what was hypothesized. Instead of functioning better and having more self esteem, persons in SE had lower functioning levels and lower self esteem. The most likely explanation is that people who work in low-paying service jobs in real world settings generally do not like them and experience significant job stress, whether they have severe mental illness or not. The implications for theory in psychosocial rehabilitation are considered.


The Effects of a Supported Employment Program on Psychosocial Indicators for Persons with Severe Mental Illness

Over the past quarter century a shift has occurred from traditional institution-based models of care for persons with severe mental illness (SMI) to more individualized community-based treatments. Along with this, there has been a significant shift in thought about the potential for persons with SMI to be "rehabilitated" toward lifestyles that more closely approximate those of persons without such illness. A central issue is the ability of a person to hold a regular full-time job for a sustained period of time. There have been several attempts to develop novel and radical models for program interventions designed to assist persons with SMI to sustain full-time employment while living in the community. The most promising of these have emerged from the tradition of psychiatric rehabilitation with its emphases on individual consumer goal setting, skills training, job preparation and employment support (Cook, Jonikas and Solomon, 1992). These are relatively new and field evaluations are rare or have only recently been initiated (Cook and Razzano, 1992; Cook, 1992). Most of the early attempts to evaluate such programs have naturally focused almost exclusively on employment outcomes. However, theory suggests that sustained employment and living in the community may have important therapeutic benefits in addition to the obvious economic ones. To date, there have been no formal studies of the effects of psychiatric rehabilitation programs on key illness-related outcomes. To address this issue, this study seeks to examine the effects of a new program of supported employment on psychosocial outcomes for persons with SMI.

Over the past several decades, the theory of vocational rehabilitation has experienced two major stages of evolution. Original models of vocational rehabilitation were based on the idea of sheltered workshop employment. Clients were paid a piece rate and worked only with other individuals who were disabled. Sheltered workshops tended to be "end points" for persons with severe and profound mental retardation since few ever moved from sheltered to competitive employment (Woest, Klein & Atkins, 1986). Controlled studies of sheltered workshop performance of persons with mental illness suggested only minimal success (Griffiths, 1974) and other research indicated that persons with mental illness earned lower wages, presented more behavior problems, and showed poorer workshop attendance than workers with other disabilities (Whitehead, 1977; Ciardiello, 1981).

In the 1980s, a new model of services called Supported Employment (SE) was proposed as less expensive and more normalizing for persons undergoing rehabilitation (Wehman, 1985). The SE model emphasizes first locating a job in an integrated setting for minimum wage or above, and then placing the person on the job and providing the training and support services needed to remain employed (Wehman, 1985). Services such as individualized job development, one-on-one job coaching, advocacy with co-workers and employers, and "fading" support were found to be effective in maintaining employment for individuals with severe and profound mental retardation (Revell, Wehman & Arnold, 1984). The idea that this model could be generalized to persons with all types of severe disabilities, including severe mental illness, became commonly accepted (Chadsey-Rusch & Rusch, 1986).

One of the more notable SE programs was developed at Thresholds, the site for the present study, which created a new staff position called the mobile job support worker (MJSW) and removed the common six month time limit for many placements. MJSWs provide ongoing, mobile support and intervention at or near the work site, even for jobs with high degrees of independence (Cook & Hoffschmidt, 1993). Time limits for many placements were removed so that clients could stay on as permanent employees if they and their employers wished. The suspension of time limits on job placements, along with MJSW support, became the basis of SE services delivered at Thresholds.

There are two key psychosocial outcome constructs of interest in this study. The first is the overall psychological functioning of the person with SMI. This would include the specification of severity of cognitive and affective symptomotology as well as the overall level of psychological functioning. The second is the level of self-reported self esteem of the person. This was measured both generally and with specific reference to employment.

The key hypothesis of this study is:

HO: A program of supported employment will result in either no change or negative effects on psychological functioning and self esteem.

which will be tested against the alternative:

HA: A program of supported employment will lead to positive effects on psychological functioning and self esteem.

Method

Sample

The population of interest for this study is all adults with SMI residing in the U.S. in the early 1990s. The population that is accessible to this study consists of all persons who were clients of the Thresholds Agency in Chicago, Illinois between the dates of March 1, 1993 and February 28, 1995 who met the following criteria: 1) a history of severe mental illness (e.g., either schizophrenia, severe depression or manic-depression); 2) a willingness to achieve paid employment; 3) their primary diagnosis must not include chronic alcoholism or hard drug use; and 4) they must be 18 years of age or older. The sampling frame was obtained from records of the agency. Because of the large number of clients who pass through the agency each year (e.g., approximately 500 who meet the criteria) a simple random sample of 50% was chosen for inclusion in the study. This resulted in a sample size of 484 persons over the two-year course of the study.

On average, study participants were 30 years old and high school graduates (average education level = 13 years). The majority of participants (70%) were male. Most had never married (85%), few (2%) were currently married, and the remainder had been formerly married (13%). Just over half (51%) are African American, with the remainder Caucasian (43%) or other minority groups (6%). In terms of illness history, the members in the sample averaged 4 prior psychiatric hospitalizations and spent a lifetime average of 9 months as patients in psychiatric hospitals. The primary diagnoses were schizophrenia (42%) and severe chronic depression (37%). Participants had spent an average of almost two and one-half years (29 months) at the longest job they ever held.

While the study sample cannot be considered representative of the original population of interest, generalizability was not a primary goal -- the major purpose of this study was to determine whether a specific SE program could work in an accessible context. Any effects of SE evident in this study can be generalized to urban psychiatric agencies that are similar to Thresholds, have a similar clientele, and implement a similar program.

Measures

All but one of the measures used in this study are well-known instruments in the research literature on psychosocial functioning. All of the instruments were administered as part of a structured interview that an evaluation social worker had with study participants at regular intervals.

Two measures of psychological functioning were used. The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS)(Overall and Gorham, 1962) is an 18-item scale that measures perceived severity of symptoms ranging from "somatic concern" and "anxiety" to "depressive mood" and "disorientation." Ratings are given on a 0-to-6 Likert-type response scale where 0="not present" and 6="extremely severe" and the scale score is simply the sum of the 18 items. The Global Assessment Scale (GAS)(Endicott et al, 1976) is a single 1-to-100 rating on a scale where each ten-point increment has a detailed description of functioning (higher scores indicate better functioning). For instance, one would give a rating between 91-100 if the person showed "no symptoms, superior functioning..." and a value between 1-10 if the person "needs constant supervision..."

Two measures of self esteem were used. The first is the Rosenberg Self Esteem (RSE) Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), a 10-item scale rated on a 6-point response format where 1="strongly disagree" and 6="strongly agree" and there is no neutral point. The total score is simply the sum across the ten items, with five of the items being reversals. The second measure was developed explicitly for this study and was designed to measure the Employment Self Esteem (ESE) of a person with SMI. This is a 10-item scale that uses a 4-point response format where 1="strongly disagree" and 4="strongly agree" and there is no neutral point. The final ten items were selected from a pool of 97 original candidate items, based upon high item-total score correlations and a judgment of face validity by a panel of three psychologists. This instrument was deliberately kept simple -- a shorter response scale and no reversal items -- because of the difficulties associated with measuring a population with SMI. The entire instrument is provided in Appendix A.

All four of the measures evidenced strong reliability and validity. Internal consistency reliability estimates using Cronbach's alpha ranged from .76 for ESE to .88 for SE. Test-retest reliabilities were nearly as high, ranging from .72 for ESE to .83 for the BPRS. Convergent validity was evidenced by the correlations within construct. For the two psychological functioning scales the correlation was .68 while for the self esteem measures it was somewhat lower at .57. Discriminant validity was examined by looking at the cross-construct correlations which ranged from .18 (BPRS-ESE) to .41 (GAS-SE).

Design

A pretest-posttest two-group randomized experimental design was used in this study. In notational form, the design can be depicted as:

R O X O

R O O

where:

R = the groups were randomly assigned

O = the four measures (i.e., BPRS, GAS, RSE, and ESE)

X = supported employment

The comparison group received the standard Thresholds protocol which emphasized in-house training in life skills and employment in an in-house sheltered workshop. All participants were measured at intake (pretest) and at three months after intake (posttest).

This type of randomized experimental design is generally strong in internal validity. It rules out threats of history, maturation, testing, instrumentation, mortality and selection interactions. Its primary weaknesses are in the potential for treatment-related mortality (i.e., a type of selection-mortality) and for problems that result from the reactions of participants and administrators to knowledge of the varying experimental conditions. In this study, the drop-out rate was 4% (N=9) for the control group and 5% (N=13) in the treatment group. Because these rates are low and are approximately equal in each group, it is not plausible that there is differential mortality. There is a possibility that there were some deleterious effects due to participant knowledge of the other group's existence (e.g., compensatory rivalry, resentful demoralization). Staff were debriefed at several points throughout the study and were explicitly asked about such issues. There were no reports of any apparent negative feelings from the participants in this regard. Nor is it plausible that staff might have equalized conditions between the two groups. Staff were given extensive training and were monitored throughout the course of the study. Overall, this study can be considered strong with respect to internal validity.

Procedure

Between 3/1/93 and 2/28/95 each person admitted to Thresholds who met the study inclusion criteria was immediately assigned a random number that gave them a 50/50 chance of being selected into the study sample. For those selected, the purpose of the study was explained, including the nature of the two treatments, and the need for and use of random assignment. Participants were assured confidentiality and were given an opportunity to decline to participate in the study. Only 7 people (out of 491) refused to participate. At intake, each selected sample member was assigned a random number giving them a 50/50 chance of being assigned to either the Supported Employment condition or the standard in-agency sheltered workshop. In addition, all study participants were given the four measures at intake.

All participants spent the initial two weeks in the program in training and orientation. This consisted of life skill training (e.g., handling money, getting around, cooking and nutrition) and job preparation (employee roles, coping strategies). At the end of that period, each participant was assigned to a job site -- at the agency sheltered workshop for those in the control condition, and to an outside employer if in the Supported Employment group. Control participants were expected to work full-time at the sheltered workshop for a three-month period, at which point they were posttested and given an opportunity to obtain outside employment (either Supported Employment or not). The Supported Employment participants were each assigned a case worker -- called a Mobile Job Support Worker (MJSW) -- who met with the person at the job site two times per week for an hour each time. The MJSW could provide any support or assistance deemed necessary to help the person cope with job stress, including counseling or working beside the person for short periods of time. In addition, the MJSW was always accessible by cellular telephone, and could be called by the participant or the employer at any time. At the end of three months, each participant was post-tested and given the option of staying with their current job (with or without Supported Employment) or moving to the sheltered workshop.

Results

There were 484 participants in the final sample for this study, 242 in each treatment. There were 9 drop-outs from the control group and 13 from the treatment group, leaving a total of 233 and 229 in each group respectively from whom both pretest and posttest were obtained. Due to unexpected difficulties in coping with job stress, 19 Supported Employment participants had to be transferred into the sheltered workshop prior to the posttest. In all 19 cases, no one was transferred prior to week 6 of employment, and 15 were transferred after week 8. In all analyses, these cases were included with the Supported Employment group (intent-to-treat analysis) yielding treatment effect estimates that are likely to be conservative.

The major results for the four outcome measures are shown in Figure 1.

_______________________________________

Insert Figure 1 about here

_______________________________________

It is immediately apparent that in all four cases the null hypothesis has to be accepted -- contrary to expectations, Supported Employment cases did significantly worse on all four outcomes than did control participants.

The mean gains, standard deviations, sample sizes and t-values (t-test for differences in average gain) are shown for the four outcome measures in Table 1.

_______________________________________

Insert Table 1 about here

_______________________________________

The results in the table confirm the impressions in the figures. Note that all t-values are negative except for the BPRS where high scores indicate greater severity of illness. For all four outcomes, the t-values were statistically significant (p<.05).

Conclusions

The results of this study were clearly contrary to initial expectations. The alternative hypothesis suggested that SE participants would show improved psychological functioning and self esteem after three months of employment. Exactly the reverse happened -- SE participants showed significantly worse psychological functioning and self esteem.

There are two major possible explanations for this outcome pattern. First, it seems reasonable that there might be a delayed positive or "boomerang" effect of employment outside of a sheltered setting. SE cases may have to go through an initial difficult period of adjustment (longer than three months) before positive effects become apparent. This "you have to get worse before you get better" theory is commonly held in other treatment-contexts like drug addiction and alcoholism. But a second explanation seems more plausible -- that people working full-time jobs in real-world settings are almost certainly going to be under greater stress and experience more negative outcomes than those who work in the relatively safe confines of an in-agency sheltered workshop. Put more succinctly, the lesson here might very well be that work is hard. Sheltered workshops are generally very nurturing work environments where virtually all employees share similar illness histories and where expectations about productivity are relatively low. In contrast, getting a job at a local hamburger shop or as a shipping clerk puts the person in contact with co-workers who may not be sympathetic to their histories or forgiving with respect to low productivity. This second explanation seems even more plausible in the wake of informal debriefing sessions held as focus groups with the staff and selected research participants. It was clear in the discussion that SE persons experienced significantly higher job stress levels and more negative consequences. However, most of them also felt that the experience was a good one overall and that even their "normal" co-workers "hated their jobs" most of the time.

One lesson we might take from this study is that much of our contemporary theory in psychiatric rehabilitation is naive at best and, in some cases, may be seriously misleading. Theory led us to believe that outside work was a "good" thing that would naturally lead to "good" outcomes like increased psychological functioning and self esteem. But for most people (SMI or not) work is at best tolerable, especially for the types of low-paying service jobs available to study participants. While people with SMI may not function as well or have high self esteem, we should balance this with the desire they may have to "be like other people" including struggling with the vagaries of life and work that others struggle with.

Future research in this are needs to address the theoretical assumptions about employment outcomes for persons with SMI. It is especially important that attempts to replicate this study also try to measure how SE participants feel about the decision to work, even if traditional outcome indicators suffer. It may very well be that negative outcomes on traditional indicators can be associated with a "positive" impact for the participants and for the society as a whole.


References

Chadsey-Rusch, J. and Rusch, F.R. (1986). The ecology of the workplace. In J. Chadsey-Rusch, C. Haney-Maxwell, L. A. Phelps and F. R. Rusch (Eds.), School-to-Work Transition Issues and Models. (pp. 59-94), Champaign IL: Transition Institute at Illinois.

Ciardiello, J.A. (1981). Job placement success of schizophrenic clients in sheltered workshop programs. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 14, 125-128, 140.

Cook, J.A. (1992). Job ending among youth and adults with severe mental illness. Journal of Mental Health Administration, 19(2), 158-169.

Cook, J.A. & Hoffschmidt, S. (1993). Psychosocial rehabilitation programming: A comprehensive model for the 1990's. In R.W. Flexer and P. Solomon (Eds.), Social and Community Support for People with Severe Mental Disabilities: Service Integration in Rehabilitation and Mental Health. Andover, MA: Andover Publishing.

Cook, J.A., Jonikas, J., & Solomon, M. (1992). Models of vocational rehabilitation for youth and adults with severe mental illness. American Rehabilitation, 18, 3, 6-32.

Cook, J.A. & Razzano, L. (1992). Natural vocational supports for persons with severe mental illness: Thresholds Supported Competitive Employment Program, in L. Stein (ed.), New Directions for Mental Health Services, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 56, 23-41.

Endicott, J.R., Spitzer, J.L. Fleiss, J.L. and Cohen, J. (1976). The Global Assessment Scale: A procedure for measuring overall severity of psychiatric disturbance. Archives of General Psychiatry, 33, 766-771.

Griffiths, R.D. (1974). Rehabilitation of chronic psychotic patients. Psychological Medicine, 4, 316-325.

Overall, J. E. and Gorham, D. R. (1962). The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. Psychological Reports, 10, 799-812.

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and Adolescent Self Image. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.

Wehman, P. (1985). Supported competitive employment for persons with severe disabilities. In P. McCarthy, J. Everson, S. Monn & M. Barcus (Eds.), School-to-Work Transition for Youth with Severe Disabilities, (pp. 167-182), Richmond VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Whitehead, C.W. (1977). Sheltered Workshop Study: A Nationwide Report on Sheltered Workshops and their Employment of Handicapped Individuals. (Workshop Survey, Volume 1), U.S. Department of Labor Service Publication. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Woest, J., Klein, M. and Atkins, B.J. (1986). An overview of supported employment strategies. Journal of Rehabilitation Administration, 10(4), 130-135.


Table 1. Means, standard deviations and Ns for the pretest, posttest and gain scores for the four outcome variables and t-test for difference between average gains.

BPRSPretestPosttestGain
TreatmentMean3.25.1 1.9
sd 2.42.72.55
N 229229229
ControlMean3.43.0 -0.4
sd 2.32.52.4
N 233233233
t =9.979625p<.05
GASPretestPosttestGain
TreatmentMean5943 -16
sd 25.224.324.75
N 229229229
ControlMean6163 2
sd 26.722.124.4
N 233233233
t = -7.87075p<.05
RSEPretestPosttestGain
TreatmentMean4231 -11
sd 27.126.526.8
N 229229229
ControlMean4143 2
sd 28.225.927.05
N 233233233
t = -5.1889p<.05
ESEPretestPosttestGain
TreatmentMean2716 -11
sd 19.321.220.25
N 229229229
ControlMean2524 -1
sd 18.620.319.45
N 233233233
t = -5.41191p<.05

Figure 1. Pretest and posttest means for treatment (SE) and control groups for the four outcome measures.





Appendix A

The Employment Self Esteem Scale

Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

1. I feel good about my work on the job.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

2. On the whole, I get along well with others at work.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

3. I am proud of my ability to cope with difficulties at work.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

4. When I feel uncomfortable at work, I know how to handle it.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

5. I can tell that other people at work are glad to have me there.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

6. I know I'll be able to cope with work for as long as I want.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

7. I am proud of my relationship with my supervisor at work.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

8. I am confident that I can handle my job without constant assistance.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

9. I feel like I make a useful contribution at work.


StronglyDisagree


SomewhatDisagree


SomewhatAgree


StronglyAgree

10. I can tell that my co-workers respect me.

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Copyright ©2006, William M.K. Trochim, All Rights Reserved
Purchase a printed copy of the Research Methods Knowledge Base
Last Revised: 10/20/2006

Compelling case studies can help you convince potential customers to start to use your product.

This is especially true if your case study subject is in the same industry or is the same size as your potential customer.

There’s just one problem.

Writing an excellent case study is hard.

So we thought we would help lighten the load for you.

This post contains 35 case study examples across a variety of industries to help inspire your content writers.

Plus, we’ll walk through a step-by-step process on how to write a case study of your own (using one of two different template styles can grab for free).

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What Is A Case Study?

According to Top Rank Blog, a case study is:

“An analysis of a project, campaign or company that identifies a situation, recommended solutions, implementation actions and identification of those factors that contributed to failure or success.”

Here’s a case study video example from a brand you might even be drinking right now (if we had to guess, we’d say marketers love their Starbucks):

TL;DR? Check out this Slideshare if you want a quick overview on developing case studies:

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7 Steps To Writing a Strong Case Study

Writing a case study involves gathering all the information you need from your organization, your client or a customer, and then formating into an easy to read document.

Here are the seven steps you need to follow to write a full study.

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Step One: Finding the Subject of Your Case Study

The first step in any case study writing process is deciding who you want to write about. It could be your organization, a client or a customer.

Some criteria to keep in mind when you’re selecting your case study subject is:

  • If you’re working with a customer or client, how much do they use your product or service?
  • Has there been a dramatic result since they started working with your organization?
  • Have they used a competitor before?

To find this information, consider:

  • Talking to your sales team to see if there are any prospects who may be willing to participate.
  • Asking your customer support department if they have any exceptional customers.
  • Review recent new customers to see if any prospective candidates have bought from you.

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Step Two: Ask For Permission to Use Their Story in Your Case Study

It’s one thing if you’re writing about your organization, it’s another if you’re writing about customers or clients. Don’t just pull information about them and throw it into a case study.

Ask them before you start.

Create a Permission Letter

If you are creating multiple case studies, design a pre-written permission letter. It will help move your writing process along.

Your letter should include:

  • What the case study undertaking is going to look like.
  • What they get out of the case study.

Here’s a copy-and-paste template you can tailor to your needs:

Hi [Name of person],

Our team is conducting a case study, and we would love to tell the story of [company]. Would you be interested in working with us to create a case study around the use of our product?

Here’s a description of our process and what we would need from you:

What we’d like from you:

  • High-resolution company logo (basically as big as possible)
  • High-resolution images of your team, company office, etc – stories with photos of your team will drive more traffic (people like seeing that there are humans behind a story)
  • Stats: before [Company] / after [Company]

What does the process look like?

  • 1 [phone/video call/coffee] interview with [person].
  • Our team will then take your interview and build a story out of it.
  • 2-3 email conversations may be necessary to gather extra information.
  • Once final draft is complete – we’ll send it over to your team for review.
  • We’ll then finalize the story, create a landing page, and build a campaign around it.
  • Once live we’ll share final story with you (for your marketing efforts)

Average Turnaround Time: 1 month (subject to change based on response times and edits).

What’s in it for you?

  • Perk One
  • Perk Two
  • Perk Three
  • Perk Four
  • Perk Five

Best regards,

[SIGNATURE]

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Consider Using a Legal Release Form

Another potential step in the process is asking your case study subjects to sign a legal release form so you can use their information.

You do not have to take this step in your case study creation process. If you do decide to have your subjects sign a form, consult with your legal team first.

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Step Three: Send Them An Introductory Questionnaire

Once your client or customer has agreed to participate, you should begin to format your introductory questionnaire.

This questionnaire will help you get the information you need to shape the story of your case study.

Some potential questions to include could be:

  • What problem did you experience before using our product/service?
  • Why did you select our product/service instead of a competitor?
  • How did our product/service solve a problem you were experiencing?
  • What are your goals as a business or organization?
  • Are you comfortable sharing data and metrics demonstrating your success?

You can adjust your questions based on how your customer uses your product to get specific answers or quotes that can be highlighted in your study.

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Step Four: Format Your Case Study Interview Questions

Once your client or customer has completed your initial questionnaire, it’s time to draft your interview questions.

Asking quality interview questions is critical to ensure that you get the information you need to write a full case study. Remember your clients or customers are busy, so you don’t want to have to ask for more details multiple times.

Based on the responses that you received from your initial questionnaire, you can adjust questions to get any additional information you need.

Here are 25 case study questions to add to your interview.

Getting To Know Your Subject

These questions should be similar to the ones you sent in your questionnaire. These should help you gather any information you may have missed.
Potential examples are:

  • What industry is your company in?
  • How long have you been using our product or service?
  • What is your work process like?
  • How many members are on your team?
  • What goals do you set for your team?

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What Problems Were They Experiencing?

Your case study participants were obviously experiencing some problem before they turned to your organization for a solution. Give the readers of your case study, even more, context by getting as much information about their problem as possible.

Some possible questions to include in your interview are:

  • When did your team first realize there was a problem?
  • What solutions did you try before you came to us?
  • Did your problem happen suddenly or did it occur over time?
  • How did the team come to the decision that outside assistance was required?
  • What factors led to the problem developing?

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What Helped Them Make Their Decision?

Finding out what helped your client or customer decide to work with your company is not only informative for potential new business, but it can help your organization determine what materials to publish.

Try these questions out during your interview:

  • What materials did you read or watch that influenced your decision?
  • What criteria did you have when you were looking for a solution?
  • What competitors did you look at (if any)?
  • How did you convince your team to make a change?
  • What sealed the deal for you when you choose to work with our organization?

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How Does Your Solution Help?

Talk to your customer or client and find out how your solution is helped them fix the problem that they were previously experiencing.

Add these questions to your interview list:

  • What [product/service] helped solve your problem?
  • What did our product or service replace in your current work process?
  • What tasks did our [product/service] simplify for you?
  • How much time do you save?
  • What tasks did our [product/service] eliminate?

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How Did They Implement Your Product?

Another relevant question to ask during your interview process is how your subject implemented your solution into their work process. This could help eliminate nerves from other potential new customers.

Here are some questions to ask during your interview:

  • How easily did your team adapt our product into their routine?
  • How was your onboarding process?
  • What process did you use to switch over to using our product?
  • What difficulties did you face in the transition process?
  • What advice do you have for anyone implementing our product into their work process?

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What Results Did They See?

Results speak volumes so why not let your customer or client data do the talking for you? Remember that you may not be able to gather or showcase all the data you ask for.

Try adding a few of these questions to your list of questions:

  • How much faster are you at completing [task] now that you use our product?
  • How did we help you reach your goals?
  • Did you see any significant jumps in the data that your team collects?
  • How has your productivity changed since implementing our [product/service]?
  • What positive results have you seen?

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Want to keep these questions somewhere handy for reference? Save this cheat sheet:

Step Five: Schedule the Interview

You’ve found your subject, and your interview questions are at the ready. The next part of your process is going to involve setting up your interview.

First, you need to set up a time for your interview on a synced calendar.

Do This With CoSchedule: Did you know you can sync your Google Calendar with your CoSchedule calendar? Learn how.

Then you need to decide how you’re going to conduct your interview. Here are some options:

  • Phone interview. Use a phone call recording app like [Include some options here]. Make sure you have permission to record your call.
  • Video call. If you’re using a Mac, Quicktime makes it easy to record video calls on your desktop for free. Windows users can use Skype.
  • Face to face meeting. If your client is local, this may be the easiest and most personable option.

Once you and your client/customer have decided on an interview time and place, make sure that you have a way to document your interview, either through a recording device or note taking (we highly recommend recording your conversation for accuracy and peace of mind).

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Step Six: Write Your Case Study

Finally, you have all of your information collected in one place. Now comes the fun part; putting it all together into the case study template you downloaded earlier.

Writing Your Title

The first part of any good case study is a catchy title. Your title should include the name of your client or customer as well as their logo. Your subhead should also be short and included information on what product or service they used that helped them solve their problem.

In your template, add your title (and your subject’s logo):


What does a quality title look like? Well, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It should:

  • State who it’s about.
  • Explain what was done.
  • Communicate a clear result.

Take a look at this example from bit.ly:

This title works because of it explains:

  • The problem the company faced.
  • What type of company is involved in the case study.
  • How bit.ly helped them tackle the challenge.

Do This With CoSchedule: Did you know that CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer can help you write better headlines? Try it now.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary should be a two to three sentence paragraph that describes the story of your client/customer. You can also include a statistic or two to help illustrate the success of your case study subject.

Here’s what this section looks like in your template:

Check out this executive summary example about Patagonia:

 

This executive summary works because:

  • It explains what Patagonia is about.
  • It highlights the problem the company was experiencing.
  • It’s short and concise.

Who is The Case Study About?

The next part of your case study should explain who your case study is about. This is where the information that you gathered from your initial questionnaire would go.

Here’s what this section looks like in your template:

This one, from a case study about Adobe, is tied in with its executive summary:

Why this works:

  • It explains who Adobe is.
  • It highlights what the Adobe team is already doing.
  • It ties together the problem Adobe experienced with the reason it turned to LinkedIn for a solution.

Problems They’ve Faced

In this part of the study, write about the top two to three issues that your case study participant was experiencing. You should summarize what challenges they faced as well as their previous goals.

Cirque de Soleil’s case study is a great example of address problems a company faces in a case study:

 

Why it works:

  1. The study cuts right to the heart of the problem.
  2. It mentions the specific part of the company that helped Cirque.
  3. It breaks through the fluff and gets the point across right away.

How Did You Help?

 

This section of your case study is going to show off the solutions that your customers and clients use. It should highlight the changes that you’ve brought to their team.

Callaway Golf is another great example of a case study that explains how it’s researcher helped solve their problem.

Why this works:

  • It shows people how LinkedIn has access to Callaway’s target demographic.
  • It explains how they created an app to help solve Callaway’s problem.
  • It explains parts of the data they used to target Callaway’s target audience.

Progress and Results

The final section of your case study should feature the progress that has been made since your customer or client began to use your services. This could be shown through progress towards their goals, changes in metrics they track, and more.

Here’s what this section looks like in your template:

Take a look at the results section in a case study on Weebly.

 

Why this works:

  • The results are one of the most visuals aspects of the case study.
  • They are easy to skim.
  • You can easily tell what type of growth or improvement they experienced.

Using Visuals In Your Case Study

Visuals can help add the extra oomph you need to make a great case study. It can also help make the document easier to skim.

Whether that means graphs, logos, or photos, visuals can make a huge difference.

 

Here are a few extra resources to help you create solid visuals for your case study.

Do This In CoSchedule: You can manage projects and hold your team accountable to meeting deadlines with CoSchedule?Learn how.

Step Seven: Promoting Your Case Study

Your case study is finally complete. You sent it off to your client/customer, and they approved your work.

Now what?

You did all that work, don’t forget to get it out there for the world to see.

Promote your case study by:

The great thing about case studies is that they are an easy piece of marketing material to tack on to any additional campaign.

Do This In CoSchedule: You can plan and promote all your content in one place with CoSchedule? Learn how to create and schedule automated social media promo campaigns in CoSchedule.

What Does A Case Study Look Like? Let’s Look at 5 Examples.

Now that you know how to create a great case study let’s look at some well-executed examples.

Vega Case Study Example

Here’s an example of a case study our team at CoSchedule created for Vega, a customer specializing in premium plant-based lifestyle products. It makes it clear who they are and exactly how CoSchedule has improved their business.

 

Red Bull Marketing Case Study Example

Red Bull is known for its amazing content marketing. This case study from Link Humans turns a typical blog post into a full-blown case study examining how the brand executes its wildly innovative strategy:

 

Automotive Case Study Example

Why does this case study work? It’s about an automotive company, and it’s coming from one of the biggest family brands ever: Disney.

It’s also:

  1. Concise and to the point. There is no fluff that would distract the reader from the information they need to find.
  2. Outside of Disney’s wheelhouse and therefore reaches a different but desired target market. Who would think of Disney as a resource to help craft a new company culture? This case study shows that they can.

Big-Box Store Case Study Example

Target is a big brand box store that is branching out and trying new things to interact with its customers. This case study from TED landed on our highlight list for two reasons.

  1. One is its visually appealing images …
  2. … and the other is the way the TED team formatted the study for the web. It’s short, sweet and broken into easy to skim paragraphs.

Hotel Case Study Example

This case study from Hilton is a great example of how a company can conduct a study on itself. This brief document is a perfect example of how to format a case study for easy printing.

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Now Go Write An Awesome Case Study

The fear of creating a compelling case study is gone. You have great examples to follow and two different templates to help you format the information you gather.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Do you have a question or two about formatting case studies? Let us know in the comments below.

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