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1.  Accuracy of drug advertisements in medical journals under new law regulating the marketing of pharmaceutical products in Switzerland 
Background
New legal regulations for the marketing of pharmaceutical products were introduced in 2002 in Switzerland. We investigated whether claims in drug advertisements citing published scientific studies were justified by these studies after the introduction of these new regulations.
Methods
In this cross-sectional study, two independent reviewers screened all issues of six major Swiss medical journals published in the year 2005 to identify all drug advertisements for analgesic, gastrointestinal and psychopharmacologic drugs and evaluated all drug advertisements referring to at least one publication. The pharmaceutical claim was rated as being supported, being based on a potentially biased study or not to be supported by the cited study according to pre-specified criteria. We also explored factors likely to be associated with supported advertisement claims.
Results
Of 2068 advertisements 577 (28%) promoted analgesic, psychopharmacologic or gastrointestinal drugs. Among them were 323 (56%) advertisements citing at least one reference. After excluding multiple publications of the same drug advertisement and advertisements with non-informative references, there remained 29 unique advertisements with at least one reference to a scientific study. These 29 advertisements contained 78 distinct pairs of claims of analgesic, gastrointestinal and psychopharmacologic drugs and referenced studies. Thirty-seven (47%) claims were supported, 16 (21%) claims were not supported by the corresponding reference, and 25 (32%) claims were based on potentially biased evidence, with no relevant differences between drug groups. Studies with conflict of interest and studies stating industry funding were more likely to support the corresponding claim (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.07–2.17 and RR 1.50, 95% CI 0.98–2.28) than studies without identified conflict of interest and studies without information on type of funding.
Conclusion
Following the introduction of new regulations for drug advertisement in Switzerland, 53% of all assessed pharmaceutical claims published in major medical journals are not supported by the cited referenced studies or based on potentially biased study information. In light of the discrepancy between the new legislation and the endorsement of these regulations, physicians should not trust drug advertisement claims even when they seem to refer to scientific studies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-61
PMCID: PMC2631602  PMID: 19117521
2.  The cancer translational research informatics platform 
Background
Despite the pressing need for the creation of applications that facilitate the aggregation of clinical and molecular data, most current applications are proprietary and lack the necessary compliance with standards that would allow for cross-institutional data exchange. In line with its mission of accelerating research discoveries and improving patient outcomes by linking networks of researchers, physicians, and patients focused on cancer research, caBIG (cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid™) has sponsored the creation of the caTRIP (Cancer Translational Research Informatics Platform) tool, with the purpose of aggregating clinical and molecular data in a repository that is user-friendly, easily accessible, as well as compliant with regulatory requirements of privacy and security.
Results
caTRIP has been developed as an N-tier architecture, with three primary tiers: domain services, the distributed query engine, and the graphical user interface, primarily making use of the caGrid infrastructure to ensure compatibility with other tools currently developed by caBIG. The application interface was designed so that users can construct queries using either the Simple Interface via drop-down menus or the Advanced Interface for more sophisticated searching strategies to using drag-and-drop. Furthermore, the application addresses the security concerns of authentication, authorization, and delegation, as well as an automated honest broker service for deidentifying data.
Conclusion
Currently being deployed at Duke University and a few other centers, we expect that caTRIP will make a significant contribution to further the development of translational research through the facilitation of its data exchange and storage processes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-60
PMCID: PMC2626590  PMID: 19108734
3.  Challenges in multidisciplinary cancer care among general surgeons in Canada 
Background
While many factors can influence the way that cancer care is delivered, including the way that evidence is packaged and disseminated, little research has evaluated how health care professionals who manage cancer patients seek and use this information to identify whether and how this could be supported. Through interviews we identified that general surgeons experience challenges in coordinating care for complex cancer patients whose management is not easily addressed by guidelines, and conducted a population-based survey of general surgeon information needs and information seeking practices to extend these findings.
Methods
General surgeons with privileges at acute care hospitals in Ontario, Canada were mailed a questionnaire to solicit information needs (task, importance), information seeking (source, frequency of and reasons for use), key challenges and suggested solutions. Non-responders received up to three reminder packages. Significant differences among sub-groups (age, setting) were examined statistically (Kruskal Wallis, Mann Whitney, Chi Square). Standard qualitative methods were used to thematically analyze open-ended responses.
Results
The response rate was 44.2% (170/385) representing all 14 health regions. System resource constraints (60.4%), comorbidities (56.4%) and physiologic factors (51.8%) were top-ranked issues creating information needs. Local surgical colleagues (84.6%), other local colleagues (82.2%) and the Internet (81.1%) were top-ranked sources of information, primarily due to familiarity and speed of access. No resources were considered to be highly applicable to patient care. Challenges were related to limitations in diagnostics and staging, operative resources, and systems to support multidisciplinary care, together accounting for 76.0% of all reported issues. Findings did not differ significantly by surgeon age or setting of care.
Conclusion
General surgeons appear to use a wide range of information resources but they may not address the complex needs of many cancer patients. Decision-making is challenged by informational and logistical issues related to the coordination of multidisciplinary care. This suggests that limitations in system capacity may, in part, contribute to variable guideline compliance. Further research is required to evaluate the appropriateness of information seeking, and both concurrent and consecutive mechanisms by which to achieve multidisciplinary care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-59
PMCID: PMC2631026  PMID: 19102761
4.  The experiential health information processing model: supporting collaborative web-based patient education 
Background
First generation Internet technologies such as mailing lists or newsgroups afforded unprecedented levels of information exchange within a variety of interest groups, including those who seek health information. With emergence of the World Wide Web many communication applications were ported to web browsers. One of the driving factors in this phenomenon has been the exchange of experiential or anecdotal knowledge that patients share online, and there is emerging evidence that participation in these forums may be having an impact on people's health decision making. Theoretical frameworks supporting this form of information seeking and learning have yet to be proposed.
Results
In this article, we propose an adaptation of Kolb's experiential learning theory to begin to formulate an experiential health information processing model that may contribute to our understanding of online health information seeking behaviour in this context.
Conclusion
An experiential health information processing model is proposed that can be used as a research framework. Future research directions include investigating the utility of this model in the online health information seeking context, studying the impact of collaborating in these online environments on patient decision making and on health outcomes are provided.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-58
PMCID: PMC2627838  PMID: 19087353
5.  How confident are general dental practitioners in their decision to administer antibiotic prophylaxis? A questionnaire study 
Background
Common dental procedures induce bacteremia. To prevent infectious complications from bacteremia in patients with specific medical conditions, antibiotic prophylaxis is considered. Recommendations are often unclear and ambiguous. In a previous study we reported wide variations in general dental practitioners' (GDPs') administrations of antibiotic prophylaxis. We hypothesized that within such a conflicting clinical area, decisions are made with a high level of personal uncertainty. This study examined GDPs' confidence in their decisions and analyzed the extent to which case-related factors might explain individual variations in confidence.
Methods
Postal questionnaires in combination with telephone interviews were used. The response rate was 51% (101/200). There were no significant differences between respondents and non-respondents regarding sex, age, or place of work. The GDPs were presented to patient cases of different medical conditions, where some should receive antibiotic prophylaxis according to recommendations when performing dental procedures that could cause gingival bleeding. The GDPs assessed on visual analogue scales how confident they were in their decisions. The extent to which case-related factors, medical condition and dental procedure, could explain individual variation in confidence was analyzed.
Results
Overall the GDPs exhibited high confidence in their decisions regardless of whether they administered antibiotic prophylaxis or not, or whether their decisions were in accordance with recommendations or not. The case-related factors could explain between 30–100% of the individual variation in GDPs' confidence. For 46%, the medical condition significantly explained the individual variation in confidence. However, for most of these GDPs, lower confidence was not presented for conditions where recommendations are unclear and higher confidence was not presented for conditions where recommendations are more clear. For 8% the dental procedure significantly explained the variation, although all procedures could cause bacteremia. For 46% neither the medical condition nor the dental procedure could significantly explain the individual variation in confidence.
Conclusion
The GDPs presented high confidence in their decisions, and the majority of GDPs did not present what could be considered a justified varied level of confidence according to the clarity of recommendations. Clinicians who are overconfident in their decisions may be less susceptible to modifications of their behavior to more evidence-based strategies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-57
PMCID: PMC2631027  PMID: 19061525
6.  Support vector machine versus logistic regression modeling for prediction of hospital mortality in critically ill patients with haematological malignancies 
Background
Several models for mortality prediction have been constructed for critically ill patients with haematological malignancies in recent years. These models have proven to be equally or more accurate in predicting hospital mortality in patients with haematological malignancies than ICU severity of illness scores such as the APACHE II or SAPS II [1]. The objective of this study is to compare the accuracy of predicting hospital mortality in patients with haematological malignancies admitted to the ICU between models based on multiple logistic regression (MLR) and support vector machine (SVM) based models.
Methods
352 patients with haematological malignancies admitted to the ICU between 1997 and 2006 for a life-threatening complication were included. 252 patient records were used for training of the models and 100 were used for validation. In a first model 12 input variables were included for comparison between MLR and SVM. In a second more complex model 17 input variables were used. MLR and SVM analysis were performed independently from each other. Discrimination was evaluated using the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves (± SE).
Results
The area under ROC curve for the MLR and SVM in the validation data set were 0.768 (± 0.04) vs. 0.802 (± 0.04) in the first model (p = 0.19) and 0.781 (± 0.05) vs. 0.808 (± 0.04) in the second more complex model (p = 0.44). SVM needed only 4 variables to make its prediction in both models, whereas MLR needed 7 and 8 variables in the first and second model respectively.
Conclusion
The discriminative power of both the MLR and SVM models was good. No statistically significant differences were found in discriminative power between MLR and SVM for prediction of hospital mortality in critically ill patients with haematological malignancies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-56
PMCID: PMC2612652  PMID: 19061509
7.  A novel method for measuring patients' adherence to insulin dosing guidelines: introducing indicators of adherence 
Background
Diabetic type 1 patients are often advised to use dose adjustment guidelines to calculate their doses of insulin. Conventional methods of measuring patients' adherence are not applicable to these cases, because insulin doses are not determined in advance. We propose a method and a number of indicators to measure patients' conformance to these insulin dosing guidelines.
Methods
We used a database of logbooks of type 1 diabetic patients who participated in a summer camp. Patients used a guideline to calculate the doses of insulin lispro and glargine four times a day, and registered their injected doses in the database. We implemented the guideline in a computer system to calculate recommended doses. We then compared injected and recommended doses by using five indicators that we designed for this purpose: absolute agreement (AA): the two doses are the same; relative agreement (RA): there is a slight difference between them; extreme disagreement (ED): the administered and recommended doses are merely opposite; Under-treatment (UT) and over-treatment (OT): the injected dose is not enough or too high, respectively. We used weighted linear regression model to study the evolution of these indicators over time.
Results
We analyzed 1656 insulin doses injected by 28 patients during a three weeks camp. Overall indicator rates were AA = 45%, RA = 30%, ED = 2%, UT = 26% and OT = 30%. The highest rate of absolute agreement is obtained for insulin glargine (AA = 70%). One patient with alarming behavior (AA = 29%, RA = 24% and ED = 8%) was detected. The monitoring of these indicators over time revealed a crescendo curve of adherence rate which fitted well in a weighted linear model (slope = 0.85, significance = 0.002). This shows an improvement in the quality of therapeutic decision-making of patients during the camp.
Conclusion
Our method allowed the measurement of patients' adherence to their insulin adjustment guidelines. The indicators that we introduced were capable of providing quantitative data on the quality of patients' decision-making for the studied population as a whole, for each individual patient, for all injections, and for each time of injection separately. They can be implemented in monitoring systems to detect non-adherent patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-55
PMCID: PMC2636792  PMID: 19061492
8.  Web 2.0 systems supporting childhood chronic disease management: A pattern language representation of a general architecture 
Background
Chronic disease management is a global health concern. By the time they reach adolescence, 10–15% of all children live with a chronic disease. The role of educational interventions in facilitating adaptation to chronic disease is receiving growing recognition, and current care policies advocate greater involvement of patients in self-care. Web 2.0 is an umbrella term for new collaborative Internet services characterized by user participation in developing and managing content. Key elements include Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to rapidly disseminate awareness of new information; weblogs (blogs) to describe new trends, wikis to share knowledge, and podcasts to make information available on personal media players. This study addresses the potential to develop Web 2.0 services for young persons with a chronic disease. It is acknowledged that the management of childhood chronic disease is based on interplay between initiatives and resources on the part of patients, relatives, and health care professionals, and where the balance shifts over time to the patients and their families.
Methods
Participatory action research was used to stepwise define a design specification in the form of a pattern language. Support for children diagnosed with diabetes Type 1 was used as the example area. Each individual design pattern was determined graphically using card sorting methods, and textually in the form Title, Context, Problem, Solution, Examples and References. Application references were included at the lowest level in the graphical overview in the pattern language but not specified in detail in the textual descriptions.
Results
The design patterns are divided into functional and non-functional design elements, and formulated at the levels of organizational, system, and application design. The design elements specify access to materials for development of the competences needed for chronic disease management in specific community settings, endorsement of self-learning through online peer-to-peer communication, and systematic accreditation and evaluation of materials and processes.
Conclusion
The use of design patterns allows representing the core design elements of a Web 2.0 system upon which an 'ecological' development of content respecting these constraints can be built. Future research should include evaluations of Web 2.0 systems implemented according to the architecture in practice settings.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-54
PMCID: PMC2627839  PMID: 19040738
9.  Extensions to decision curve analysis, a novel method for evaluating diagnostic tests, prediction models and molecular markers 
Background
Decision curve analysis is a novel method for evaluating diagnostic tests, prediction models and molecular markers. It combines the mathematical simplicity of accuracy measures, such as sensitivity and specificity, with the clinical applicability of decision analytic approaches. Most critically, decision curve analysis can be applied directly to a data set, and does not require the sort of external data on costs, benefits and preferences typically required by traditional decision analytic techniques.
Methods
In this paper we present several extensions to decision curve analysis including correction for overfit, confidence intervals, application to censored data (including competing risk) and calculation of decision curves directly from predicted probabilities. All of these extensions are based on straightforward methods that have previously been described in the literature for application to analogous statistical techniques.
Results
Simulation studies showed that repeated 10-fold crossvalidation provided the best method for correcting a decision curve for overfit. The method for applying decision curves to censored data had little bias and coverage was excellent; for competing risk, decision curves were appropriately affected by the incidence of the competing risk and the association between the competing risk and the predictor of interest. Calculation of decision curves directly from predicted probabilities led to a smoothing of the decision curve.
Conclusion
Decision curve analysis can be easily extended to many of the applications common to performance measures for prediction models. Software to implement decision curve analysis is provided.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-53
PMCID: PMC2611975  PMID: 19036144
10.  The experience of linking Victorian emergency medical service trauma data 
Background
The linking of a large Emergency Medical Service (EMS) dataset with the Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) hospital datasets and Victorian State Trauma Outcome Registry and Monitoring (VSTORM) dataset to determine patient outcomes has not previously been undertaken in Victoria. The objective of this study was to identify the linkage rate of a large EMS trauma dataset with the Department of Human Services hospital datasets and VSTORM dataset.
Methods
The linking of an EMS trauma dataset to the hospital datasets utilised deterministic and probabilistic matching. The linking of three EMS trauma datasets to the VSTORM dataset utilised deterministic, probabilistic and manual matching.
Results
There were 66.7% of patients from the EMS dataset located in the VEMD. There were 96% of patients located in the VAED who were defined in the VEMD as being admitted to hospital. 3.7% of patients located in the VAED could not be found in the VEMD due to hospitals not reporting to the VEMD. For the EMS datasets, there was a 146% increase in successful links with the trauma profile dataset, a 221% increase in successful links with the mechanism of injury only dataset, and a 46% increase with sudden deterioration dataset, to VSTORM when using manual compared to deterministic matching.
Conclusion
This study has demonstrated that EMS data can be successfully linked to other health related datasets using deterministic and probabilistic matching with varying levels of success. The quality of EMS data needs to be improved to ensure better linkage success rates with other health related datasets.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-52
PMCID: PMC2596105  PMID: 19014622
11.  Decision theory applied to image quality control in radiology 
Background
The present work aims at the application of the decision theory to radiological image quality control (QC) in diagnostic routine. The main problem addressed in the framework of decision theory is to accept or reject a film lot of a radiology service. The probability of each decision of a determined set of variables was obtained from the selected films.
Methods
Based on a radiology service routine a decision probability function was determined for each considered group of combination characteristics. These characteristics were related to the film quality control. These parameters were also framed in a set of 8 possibilities, resulting in 256 possible decision rules. In order to determine a general utility application function to access the decision risk, we have used a simple unique parameter called r. The payoffs chosen were: diagnostic's result (correct/incorrect), cost (high/low), and patient satisfaction (yes/no) resulting in eight possible combinations.
Results
Depending on the value of r, more or less risk will occur related to the decision-making. The utility function was evaluated in order to determine the probability of a decision. The decision was made with patients or administrators' opinions from a radiology service center.
Conclusion
The model is a formal quantitative approach to make a decision related to the medical imaging quality, providing an instrument to discriminate what is really necessary to accept or reject a film or a film lot. The method presented herein can help to access the risk level of an incorrect radiological diagnosis decision.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-51
PMCID: PMC2631028  PMID: 19014545
12.  Underutilization of information and knowledge in everyday medical practice: Evaluation of a computer-based solution 
Background
The medical history is acknowledged as the sine qua non for quality medical care because recognizing problems is pre-requisite for managing them. Medical histories typically are incomplete and inaccurate, however. We show here that computers are a solution to this issue of information gathering about patients. Computers can be programmed to acquire more complete medical histories with greater detail across a range of acute and chronic issues than physician histories.
Methods
Histories were acquired by physicians in the usual way and by a computer program interacting directly with patients. Decision-making of what medical issues were queried by computer were made internally by the software, including determination of the chief complaint. The selection of patients was from admissions to the Robert-Bosch-Hospital, Stuttgart, Germany by convenience sampling. Physician-acquired and computer-acquired histories were compared on a patient-by-patient basis for 45 patients.
Results
The computer histories reported 160 problems not recorded in physician histories or slightly more than 3.5 problems per patient. However, physicians but not the computer reported 13 problems. The data show that computer histories reported problems across a range of organ systems, that the problems detected by computer but not physician histories were both acute and chronic and that the computer histories detected a significant number of issues important for preventing further morbidity.
Conclusion
A combination of physician and computer-acquired histories, in non-emergent situations, with the latter available to the physician at the time he or she sees the patient, is a far superior method for collecting historical data than the physician interview alone.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-50
PMCID: PMC2596106  PMID: 18983684
13.  Construction of an odds model of coronary heart disease using published information: the Cardiovascular Health Improvement Model (CHIME) 
Background
There is a need for a new cardiovascular disease model that includes a wider range of relevant risk factors, in particular lifestyle factors, to aid targeting of interventions and improve population models of the impact of cardiovascular disease and preventive strategies. The model needs to be applicable to a wider population including different ethnic groups, different countries and to those with and without cardiovascular disease. This paper describes the construction of the Cardiovascular Health Improvement Model that aims to meet these requirements.
Method
An odds model is used. Information was taken from 2003 mortality statistics for England and Wales, the Health Survey for England 2003 and published data on relative risk in those with and without CVD and mean blood pressure values in hypertensives. The odds ratios used were taken from the INTERHEART study.
Results
A worked example is given calculating the 10-year coronary heart disease risk for a 57 year-old non-diabetic male with no personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, who smokes 30 cigarettes a day and has a systolic blood pressure of 137 mmHg, a total cholesterol (TC) of 6.2 mmol/l, a high density lipoprotein (HDL) of 1.3 mol/l, and a body mass index of 21. He neither drinks regularly nor exercises. He can give no reliable information about his mental health or fruit and vegetable intake. His 10-year risk of CHD death is 2.47%.
Conclusion
This paper demonstrates a method for developing a CHD risk model. Further improvements could be made to the model with additional information. The method is applicable to other causes of death.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-49
PMCID: PMC2601038  PMID: 18976488
14.  Are decision trees a feasible knowledge representation to guide extraction of critical information from randomized controlled trial reports? 
Background
This paper proposes the use of decision trees as the basis for automatically extracting information from published randomized controlled trial (RCT) reports. An exploratory analysis of RCT abstracts is undertaken to investigate the feasibility of using decision trees as a semantic structure. Quality-of-paper measures are also examined.
Methods
A subset of 455 abstracts (randomly selected from a set of 7620 retrieved from Medline from 1998 – 2006) are examined for the quality of RCT reporting, the identifiability of RCTs from abstracts, and the completeness and complexity of RCT abstracts with respect to key decision tree elements. Abstracts were manually assigned to 6 sub-groups distinguishing whether they were primary RCTs versus other design types. For primary RCT studies, we analyzed and annotated the reporting of intervention comparison, population assignment and outcome values. To measure completeness, the frequencies by which complete intervention, population and outcome information are reported in abstracts were measured. A qualitative examination of the reporting language was conducted.
Results
Decision tree elements are manually identifiable in the majority of primary RCT abstracts. 73.8% of a random subset was primary studies with a single population assigned to two or more interventions. 68% of these primary RCT abstracts were structured. 63% contained pharmaceutical interventions. 84% reported the total number of study subjects. In a subset of 21 abstracts examined, 71% reported numerical outcome values.
Conclusion
The manual identifiability of decision tree elements in the abstract suggests that decision trees could be a suitable construct to guide machine summarisation of RCTs. The presence of decision tree elements could also act as an indicator for RCT report quality in terms of completeness and uniformity.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-48
PMCID: PMC2584633  PMID: 18957129
15.  Telemedicine in interdisciplinary work practices: On an IT system that met the criteria for success set out by its sponsors, yet failed to become part of every-day clinical routines 
Background
Information systems can play a key role in care innovations including task redesign and shared care. Many demonstration projects have presented evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness and high levels of patient satisfaction. Yet these same projects often fail to become part of everyday clinical routines. The aim of the paper is to gain insight into a common paradox that a technology can meet the criteria for success set out at the start of the project yet fail to become part of everyday clinical routines.
Methods
We evaluated a telecare service set up to reduce the workload of ophthalmologists. In this project, optometrists in 10 optical shops made digital images to detect patients with glaucoma which were further assessed by trained technicians in the hospital. Over a period of three years, we conducted interviews with the project team and the users about the workability of the system and its integration in practice. Beside the interviews, we analyzed record data to measure the quality of the images. We compared the qualitative accounts with these measurements.
Results
According to our measurements, the quality of the images was at least satisfactory in 90% of the cases, i.e. the images could be used to screen the patients – reducing the workload of the ophthalmologist considerably. However, both the ophthalmologist and the optometrists became increasingly dissatisfied respectively with the perceived quality of the pictures and the perceived workload.
Through a detailed analysis of how the professionals discussed the quality of the pictures, we re-constructed how the notion of quality of the images and being a good professional were constructed and linked. The IT system transformed into a quality system and, at the same time, transformed the notions of being a good professional. While a continuous dialogue about the quality of the pictures became an emblem for the quality of care, this dialogue was hindered by the system and the way the care process was structured.
Conclusion
To conceptualize what telemedicine does in interdisciplinary work practices, a fine-tuned analysis is needed to assess how IT systems re-shape the social relations between professional groups. Such transformations should not be exclusively attributed to the technology itself or to the professionals working with it. Instead we need to assess these technologies through an empirically grounded study of the sociotechnical functioning of telemedicine.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-47
PMCID: PMC2615749  PMID: 18954428
17.  Formal representation of complex SNOMED CT expressions 
Background
Definitory expressions about clinical procedures, findings and diseases constitute a major benefit of a formally founded clinical reference terminology which is ontologically sound and suited for formal reasoning. SNOMED CT claims to support formal reasoning by description-logic based concept definitions.
Methods
On the basis of formal ontology criteria we analyze complex SNOMED CT concepts, such as "Concussion of Brain with(out) Loss of Consciousness", using alternatively full first order logics and the description logic ℰℒ.
Results
Typical complex SNOMED CT concepts, including negations or not, can be expressed in full first-order logics. Negations cannot be properly expressed in the description logic ℰℒ underlying SNOMED CT. All concepts concepts the meaning of which implies a temporal scope may be subject to diverging interpretations, which are often unclear in SNOMED CT as their contextual determinants are not made explicit.
Conclusion
The description of complex medical occurrents is ambiguous, as the same situations can be described as (i) a complex occurrent C that has A and B as temporal parts, (ii) a simple occurrent A' defined as a kind of A followed by some B, or (iii) a simple occurrent B' defined as a kind of B preceded by some A. As negative statements in SNOMED CT cannot be exactly represented without a (computationally costly) extension of the set of logical constructors, a solution can be the reification of negative statments (e.g., "Period with no Loss of Consciousness"), or the use of the SNOMED CT context model. However, the interpretation of SNOMED CT context model concepts as description logics axioms is not recommended, because this may entail unintended models.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S9
PMCID: PMC2582796  PMID: 19007446
18.  Ontological analysis of SNOMED CT 
Background
SNOMED CT is the most comprehensive medical terminology. However, its use for intelligent services based on formal reasoning is questionable.
Methods
The analysis of the structure of SNOMED CT is based on the formal top-level ontology DOLCE.
Results
The analysis revealed several ontological and knowledge-engineering errors, the most important are errors in the hierarchy (mostly from an ontological point of view, but also regarding medical aspects) and the mixing of subsumption relations with other types (mostly 'part of').
Conclusion
The found errors impede formal reasoning. The paper presents a possible way to correct these problems.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S8
PMCID: PMC2582795  PMID: 19007445
19.  Integration of tools for binding archetypes to SNOMED CT 
Background
The Archetype formalism and the associated Archetype Definition Language have been proposed as an ISO standard for specifying models of components of electronic healthcare records as a means of achieving interoperability between clinical systems. This paper presents an archetype editor with support for manual or semi-automatic creation of bindings between archetypes and terminology systems.
Methods
Lexical and semantic methods are applied in order to obtain automatic mapping suggestions. Information visualisation methods are also used to assist the user in exploration and selection of mappings.
Results
An integrated tool for archetype authoring, semi-automatic SNOMED CT terminology binding assistance and terminology visualization was created and released as open source.
Conclusion
Finding the right terms to bind is a difficult task but the effort to achieve terminology bindings may be reduced with the help of the described approach. The methods and tools presented are general, but here only bindings between SNOMED CT and archetypes based on the openEHR reference model are presented in detail.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S7
PMCID: PMC2582794  PMID: 19007444
20.  Automatic medical encoding with SNOMED categories 
Background
In this paper, we describe the design and preliminary evaluation of a new type of tools to speed up the encoding of episodes of care using the SNOMED CT terminology.
Methods
The proposed system can be used either as a search tool to browse the terminology or as a categorization tool to support automatic annotation of textual contents with SNOMED concepts. The general strategy is similar for both tools and is based on the fusion of two complementary retrieval strategies with thesaural resources. The first classification module uses a traditional vector-space retrieval engine which has been fine-tuned for the task, while the second classifier is based on regular variations of the term list. For evaluating the system, we use a sample of MEDLINE. SNOMED CT categories have been restricted to Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) using the SNOMED-MeSH mapping provided by the UMLS (version 2006).
Results
Consistent with previous investigations applied on biomedical terminologies, our results show that performances of the hybrid system are significantly improved as compared to each single module. For top returned concepts, a precision at high ranks (P0) of more than 80% is observed. In addition, a manual and qualitative evaluation on a dozen of MEDLINE abstracts suggests that SNOMED CT could represent an improvement compared to existing medical terminologies such as MeSH.
Conclusion
Although the precision of the SNOMED categorizer seems sufficient to help professional encoders, it is concluded that clinical benchmarks as well as usability studies are needed to assess the impact of our SNOMED encoding method in real settings.
Availabilities
The system is available for research purposes on: .
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S6
PMCID: PMC2582793  PMID: 19007443
21.  A computational linguistics motivated mapping of ICPC-2 PLUS to SNOMED CT 
Background
A great challenge in sharing data across information systems in general practice is the lack of interoperability between different terminologies or coding schema used in the information systems. Mapping of medical vocabularies to a standardised terminology is needed to solve data interoperability problems.
Methods
We present a system to automatically map an interface terminology ICPC-2 PLUS to SNOMED CT. Three steps of mapping are proposed in this system. The UMLS metathesaurus mapping utilises explicit relationships between ICPC-2 PLUS and SNOMED CT terms in the UMLS library to perform the first stage of the mapping. Computational linguistic mapping uses natural language processing techniques and lexical similarities for the second stage of mapping between terminologies. Finally, the post-coordination mapping allows one ICPC-2 PLUS term to be mapped into an aggregation of two or more SNOMED CT terms.
Results
A total 5,971 of all 7,410 ICPC-2 terms (80.58%) were mapped to SNOMED CT using the three stages but with different levels of accuracy. UMLS mapping achieved the mapping of 53.0% ICPC2 PLUS terms to SNOMED CT with the precision rate of 96.46% and overall recall rate of 44.89%. Lexical mapping increased the result to 60.31% and post-coordination mapping gave an increase of 20.27% in mapped terms. A manual review of a part of the mapping shows that the precision of lexical mappings is around 90%. The accuracy of post-coordination has not been evaluated yet. Unmapped terms and mismatched terms are due to the differences in the structures between ICPC-2 PLUS and SNOMED CT. Terms contained in ICPC-2 PLUS but not in SNOMED CT caused a large proportion of the failures in the mappings.
Conclusion
Mapping terminologies to a standard vocabulary is a way to facilitate consistent medical data exchange and achieve system interoperability and data standardisation. Broad scale mapping cannot be achieved by any single method and methods based on computational linguistics can be very useful for the task. Automating as much as is possible of this process turns the searching and mapping task into a validation task, which can effectively reduce the cost and increase the efficiency and accuracy of this task over manual methods.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S5
PMCID: PMC2582792  PMID: 19007442
22.  A case report: using SNOMED CT for grouping Adverse Drug Reactions Terms 
Background
WHO-ART and MedDRA are medical terminologies used for the coding of adverse drug reactions in pharmacovigilance databases. MedDRA proposes 13 Special Search Categories (SSC) grouping terms associated to specific medical conditions. For instance, the SSC "Haemorrhage" includes 346 MedDRA terms among which 55 are also WHO-ART terms. WHO-ART itself does not provide such groupings. Our main contention is the possibility of classifying WHO-ART terms in semantic categories by using knowledge extracted from SNOMED CT. A previous paper presents the way WHO-ART term definitions have been automatically generated in a description logics formalism by using their corresponding SNOMED CT synonyms. Based on synonymy and relative position of WHO-ART terms in SNOMED CT, specialization or generalization relationships could be inferred. This strategy is successful for grouping the WHO-ART terms present in most MedDRA SSCs. However the strategy failed when SSC were organized on other basis than taxonomy.
Methods
We propose a new method that improves the previous WHO-ART structure by integrating the associative relationships included in SNOMED CT.
Results
The new method improves the groupings. For example, none of the 55 WHO-ART terms in the Haemorrhage SSC were matched using the previous method. With the new method, we improve the groupings and obtain 87% coverage of the Haemorrhage SSC.
Conclusion
SNOMED CT's terminological structure can be used to perform automated groupings in WHO-ART. This work proves that groupings already present in the MedDRA SSCs (e.g. the haemorrhage SSC) may be retrieved using classification in SNOMED CT.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC2582791  PMID: 19007441
23.  Forty years of SNOMED: a literature review 
Background
Over a period of 40 years, SNOMED has developed from a pathology-specific nomenclature (SNOP) into a logic-based health care terminology. In spite of its long existence and continuous evolvement, it is yet unknown to what extent SNOMED is used in clinical practice, and what benefits were achieved. The aim of this paper is to investigate this by providing an overview of published studies in which a version of SNOMED was studied or applied.
Methods
This paper analyzes the use of SNOMED over time, as reflected in scientific publications, by means of Medline literature search in PubMed. The search included papers from 1966 until June 2006. For each selected paper the following characteristics were classified: version, medical domain, coding moment (during or after the care process), usage, and type of evaluation (e.g., does SNOMED work, does SNOMED help).
Results
250 papers were included in this research. The number of annual publications has increased, as has the number of domains in which SNOMED is being used. Theoretical studies mainly concern comparison of SNOMED to other terminological systems and SNOMED as an illustration of a terminological systems' theory. Few studies are available on the usage of SNOMED in clinical practice, largely involving coding information and retrieval/aggregation based on SNOMED codes.
Conclusion
The clinical application of SNOMED is broadening beyond pathology. The majority of studies concern proving the value of SNOMED in theory. Fewer studies are available on the usage of SNOMED in clinical practice. Literature gives no indication of the use of SNOMED for direct care purposes such as decision support.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC2582789  PMID: 19007439
24.  Experiences mapping a legacy interface terminology to SNOMED CT 
Background
SNOMED CT is being increasingly adopted as the standard clinical terminology for health care applications. Existing clinical applications that use legacy interface terminology need to migrate to the preferred SNOMED CT standard. In this paper, we describe our experience and methodology for mapping concepts from a legacy system to SNOMED CT.
Methods
Our approach includes the establishment of mapping rules between terminologists and back and forth collaboration of the mapped results through one or more iterations in order to reach consensus on the final maps.
Results
We highlight our results not only in terms of the number of matches, quality of maps, use of post-coordination, and multiple maps but also include our observations about SNOMED CT including inconsistencies, redundancies and omissions related to our legacy mapping.
Conclusion
Our methodology and lessons learned from this mapping exercise may be helpful to other terminologists who may be similarly challenged to migrate their legacy terminology to SNOMED CT. This mapping process and resulting discoveries about SNOMED CT may further contribute to refinement of this dynamic, clinical terminology standard.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC2582790  PMID: 19007440
25.  Pilot study of an interactive voice response system to improve medication refill compliance 
Background
Sub-optimal adherence to prescribed medications is well documented. Barriers to medication adherence include medication side effects, cost, and forgetting to take or refill medications. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems show promise as a tool for reminding individuals to take or refill medications. This pilot study evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of using an IVR system for prescription refill and daily medication reminders. We tested two novel features: personalized, medication-specific reminder messages and communication via voice recognition.
Methods
Patients enrolled in a study of electronic prescribing and medication management in Quebec, Canada who were taking chronic disease-related drugs were eligible to participate. Consenting patients had their demographic, telephone, and medication information transferred to an IVR system, which telephoned patients to remind them to take mediations and/or refill their prescriptions. Facilitators and barriers of the IVR system use and acceptability of the IVR system were assessed through a structured survey and open-ended questions administered by telephone interview.
Results
Of the 528 eligible patients who were contacted, 237 refused and 291 consented; 99 participants had started the pilot study when it was terminated because of physician and participant complaints. Thirty-eight participants completed the follow-up interview. The majority found the IVR system's voice acceptable, and did not have problems setting up the time and location of reminder calls. However, many participants experienced technical problems when called for reminders, such as incorrect time of calls and voice recognition difficulties. In addition, most participants had already refilled their prescriptions when they received the reminder calls, reporting that they did not have difficulties remembering to refill prescriptions on their own. Also, participants were not receptive to speaking to an automated voice system.
Conclusion
IVR systems designed to improve medication compliance must address key technical and performance issues and target those individuals with reported memory difficulties or complex medication regimens in order to improve the utility of the system. Future research should also identify characteristics of medication users who are more likely to be receptive to IVR technology.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-46
PMCID: PMC2588437  PMID: 18845004

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