View definitions of terms used throughout the Pathways Clearinghouse.


Case management

Meeting, typically one-on-one, with an employment specialist or counselor who helps assess needs and refers clients to other available services. Case management can take place before or during employment and could focus on employment or on mental health or substance abuse.

Case study

On the Pathways Clearinghouse site, case studies are brief summaries of noteworthy or emerging interventions for which there is neither planned nor completed research on their effectiveness. The interventions themselves might or might not be effective; no research yet exists with which to assess their effectiveness. Instead, in the interest of sharing information about emerging practices in the field, the Pathways Clearinghouse captures descriptive information about these interventions, such as how, by whom, and where an intervention is delivered, and anecdotal statements about the intervention’s outcomes.

Comparison group

A group with characteristics similar to those of intervention group members, except that those in the comparison group do not have an opportunity to receive the services of interest. The comparison group is intended to represent what would have happened to members of the intervention group if they had not been offered the services from the intervention of interest.

Confounding factor

A factor that might affect how well an intervention works and that applies differently to the intervention and comparison groups. Because this factor can affect one group and not the other, the presence of a confounding factor causes us to question a study’s findings. One type of confounding factor is an element external to the intervention that reaches only the members of one study group—for instance, if all members of the intervention group lived in one state and all members of the comparison group lived in another state. In this case, it would be impossible to separate the effect of the program or policy from that of local economic conditions.