Assessment of the severity of asthma by an expert system. Description and evaluation

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1995 Feb;151(2 Pt 1):345-52. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.151.2.7842190.


Asthmaexpert, an expert system (ES), was produced at the special request of several clinicians in order to better understand the medical decisions made clinical experts in managing an asthmatic patient. We describe and evaluate this knowledge base, focusing mainly on assessment of the severity of asthma. After compiling data from a patient, Asthmaexpert assesses the severity of the disease and identifies the trigger factors involved, suggests any further investigations that may be required, and offers a treatment strategy. Implemented with Nexpert and Hypercard, it runs on a MacIntosh personal computer. The validation stage involved eight clinical experts who provided 20 case report forms (CRF) with their conclusions about management of asthma. The CRF were then programmed into the ES, which provided its own conclusions about the same subjects. Afterward, all the experts evaluated the conclusions given by ES or by their colleagues in a double-blind manner. One hundred twenty-seven CRF were available. The reliability of the experts' opinions was good, with a substantial consensus between them when assessing severity scores (kappa = 0.27 to 0.54). There was no difference in concordance of opinions on severity scores either between the experts who designed the system and ES or between the other experts and ES (weighted kappa = 0.72 and 0.69, respectively). Experts judged that the severity scores given by ES were as good as those proposed by their colleagues, and that the overall conclusions given by ES were as good as or better than those given by their colleagues. The conclusions drawn by ES were given a good rating.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / classification*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Expert Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Respiratory Therapy Department, Hospital
  • Severity of Illness Index*