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Predicting What Will Happen When You Intervene

Cartwright, N.; Hardie, J.; Stringer, R.

Predicting What Will Happen When You Intervene Thumbnail


J. Hardie

R. Stringer


This paper offers some rules of thumb that practicing social workers can use for case studies that aim to construct, albeit not fully and never entirely reliably, models designed to help predict what will happen if they intervene in specific ways to help this particular client, here and now. We call these ’ex ante case-specific causal models’. ’Ex ante’ because they are for before-the-fact prediction of what the likely effects of proposed actions are. ’Case-specific’ because we are not concerned with studies that provide evidence for some general conclusion but rather with using what general and local knowledge one can get to predict what will happen to a specific client in the real settings in which they live. ’Causal’ because this kind of case study aims to trace out as best possible the web of causal processes that will be responsible for what happens. In this sense our case studies resemble post facto realist evaluations.


Cartwright, N., Hardie, J., & Stringer, R. (2017). Predicting What Will Happen When You Intervene. Clinical Social Work Journal, 45(3), 270-279.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 7, 2017
Publication Date Sep 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 17, 2017
Journal Clinical Social Work Journal
Print ISSN 0091-1674
Electronic ISSN 1573-3343
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 3
Pages 270-279
Public URL


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (696 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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