Relating UMLS semantic types and task-based ontology to computer-interpretable clinical practice guidelines

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2003;95:469-74.


Medical knowledge in clinical practice guideline (GL) texts is the source of task-based computer-interpretable clinical guideline models (CIGMs). We have used Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) semantic types (STs) to understand the percentage of GL text which belongs to a particular ST. We also use UMLS semantic network together with the CIGM-specific ontology to derive a semantic meaning behind the GL text. In order to achieve this objective, we took nine GL texts from the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) and marked up the text dealing with a particular ST. The STs we took into consideration were restricted taking into account the requirements of a task-based CIGM. We used DARPA Agent Markup Language and Ontology Inference Layer (DAML + OIL) to create the UMLS and CIGM specific semantic network. For the latter, as a bench test, we used the 1999 WHO-International Society of Hypertension Guidelines for the Management of Hypertension. We took into consideration the UMLS STs closest to the clinical tasks. The percentage of the GL text dealing with the ST "Health Care Activity" and subtypes "Laboratory Procedure", "Diagnostic Procedure" and "Therapeutic or Preventive Procedure" were measured. The parts of text belonging to other STs or comments were separated. A mapping of terms belonging to other STs was done to the STs under "HCA" for representation in DAML + OIL. As a result, we found that the three STs under "HCA" were the predominant STs present in the GL text. In cases where the terms of related STs existed, they were mapped into one of the three STs. The DAML + OIL representation was able to describe the hierarchy in task-based CIGMs. To conclude, we understood that the three STs could be used to represent the semantic network of the task-bases CIGMs. We identified some mapping operators which could be used for the mapping of other STs into these.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Italy
  • Medical Informatics*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Programming Languages
  • Semantics*
  • Unified Medical Language System*