Participatory approach to the development of a knowledge base for problem-solving in diabetes self-management

Int J Med Inform. 2016 Jan;85(1):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2015.08.003. Epub 2015 Aug 8.


Objective: To develop an expandable knowledge base of reusable knowledge related to self-management of diabetes that can be used as a foundation for patient-centric decision support tools.

Materials and methods: The structure and components of the knowledge base were created in participatory design with academic diabetes educators using knowledge acquisition methods. The knowledge base was validated using scenario-based approach with practicing diabetes educators and individuals with diabetes recruited from Community Health Centers (CHCs) serving economically disadvantaged communities and ethnic minorities in New York.

Results: The knowledge base includes eight glycemic control problems, over 150 behaviors known to contribute to these problems coupled with contextual explanations, and over 200 specific action-oriented self-management goals for correcting problematic behaviors, with corresponding motivational messages. The validation of the knowledge base suggested high level of completeness and accuracy, and identified improvements in cultural appropriateness. These were addressed in new iterations of the knowledge base.

Discussion: The resulting knowledge base is theoretically grounded, incorporates practical and evidence-based knowledge used by diabetes educators in practice settings, and allows for personally meaningful choices by individuals with diabetes. Participatory design approach helped researchers to capture implicit knowledge of practicing diabetes educators and make it explicit and reusable.

Conclusion: The knowledge base proposed here is an important step towards development of new generation patient-centric decision support tools for facilitating chronic disease self-management. While this knowledge base specifically targets diabetes, its overall structure and composition can be generalized to other chronic conditions.

Keywords: Community-based participatory research (H01.770.644.193); Decision-support systems (L01.700.508.300.190); Diabetes mellitus (C18.452.394.750); Knowledge bases (L01.224.065.480).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge Bases*
  • Problem Solving*
  • Self Care*