Development, dissemination, and applications of a new terminological resource, the Q-Code taxonomy for professional aspects of general practice/family medicine

Eur J Gen Pract. 2018 Dec;24(1):68-73. doi: 10.1080/13814788.2017.1404986. Epub 2017 Dec 15.


Background: While documentation of clinical aspects of General Practice/Family Medicine (GP/FM) is assured by the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC), there is no taxonomy for the professional aspects (context and management) of GP/FM.

Objectives: To present the development, dissemination, applications, and resulting face validity of the Q-Codes taxonomy specifically designed to describe contextual features of GP/FM, proposed as an extension to the ICPC.

Development: The Q-Codes taxonomy was developed from Lamberts' seminal idea for indexing contextual content (1987) by a multi-disciplinary team of knowledge engineers, linguists and general practitioners, through a qualitative and iterative analysis of 1702 abstracts from six GP/FM conferences using Atlas.ti software. A total of 182 concepts, called Q-Codes, representing professional aspects of GP/FM were identified and organized in a taxonomy. Dissemination: The taxonomy is published as an online terminological resource, using semantic web techniques and web ontology language (OWL) ( ). Each Q-Code is identified with a unique resource identifier (URI), and provided with preferred terms, and scope notes in ten languages (Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Georgian, German) and search filters for MEDLINE and web searches.

Applications: This taxonomy has already been used to support queries in bibliographic databases (e.g., MEDLINE), to facilitate indexing of grey literature in GP/FM as congress abstracts, master theses, websites and as an educational tool in vocational teaching, Conclusions: The rapidly growing list of practical applications provides face-validity for the usefulness of this freely available new terminological resource.

Keywords: General practice; classification; primary healthcare; qualitative research; semantic web; terminology as topic.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Coding*
  • Family Practice*
  • General Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Terminology as Topic*