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Structural Validation of Nursing Terminologies

Nicholas R. Hardiker , Alan L. Rector
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jamia.2001.0080212 212-221 First published online: 1 May 2001


Objective: The purpose of the study is twofold: 1) to explore the applicability of combinatorial terminologies as the basis for building enumerated classifications, and 2) to investigate the usefulness of formal terminological systems for performing such classification and for assisting in the refinement of both combinatorial terminologies and enumerated classifications.

Design: A formal model of the beta version of the International Classification for Nursing Practice (ICNP) was constructed in the compositional terminological language GRAIL (GALEN Representation and Integration Language). Terms drawn from the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association Taxonomy I (NANDA taxonomy) were mapped into the model and classified automatically using GALEN technology.

Measurements: The resulting generated hierarchy was compared with the NANDA taxonomy to assess coverage and accuracy of classification.

Results: In terms of coverage, in this study ICNP was able to capture 77 percent of NANDA terms using concepts drawn from five of its eight axes. Three axes—Body Site, Topology, and Frequency—were not needed. In terms of accuracy, where hierarchic relationships existed in the generated hierarchy or the NANDA taxonomy, or both, 6 were identical, 19 existed in the generated hierarchy alone (2 of these were considered suitable for incorporation into the NANDA taxonomy and 17 were considered inaccurate), and 23 appeared in the NANDA taxonomy alone (8 of these were considered suitable for incorporation into ICNP, 9 were considered inaccurate, and 6 reflected different, equally valid perspectives). Sixty terms appeared at the top level, with no indenting, in both the generated hierarchy and the NANDA taxonomy.

Conclusions: With appropriate refinement, combinatorial terminologies such as ICNP have the potential to provide a useful foundation for representing enumerated classifications such as NANDA. Technologies such as GALEN make possible the process of building automatically enumerated classifications while providing a useful means of validating and refining both combinatorial terminologies and enumerated classifications.

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