Original Research

The Development of the IMIA Knowledge Base

Graham Wright
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 13, No 1 | a458 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v13i1.458 | © 2011 Graham Wright | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 October 2010 | Published: 13 October 2011

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Graham Wright, Walter Sisulu University, South Africa

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Background: The discipline of health or medical informatics is relatively new in that the literature has existed for only 40 years. The British Computer Society (BCS) health group was of the opinion that work should be undertaken to explore the scope of medical or health informatics. Once the mapping work was completed the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) expressed the wish to develop it further to define the knowledge base of the discipline and produce a comprehensive internationally applicable framework. This article will also highlight the move from the expert opinion of a small group to the analysis of publications to generalise and refine the initial findings, and illustrate the importance of triangulation.

Objectives: The aim of the project was to explore the theoretical constructs underpinning the discipline of health informatics and produce a cognitive map of the existing understanding of the discipline and develop the knowledge base of health informatics for the IMIA and the BCS.

Method: The five-phase project, described in this article, undertaken to define the discipline of health informatics used four forms of triangulation.

Results: The output from the project is a framework giving the 14 major headings (Subjects) and 245 elements, which together describe the current perception of the discipline of health informatics.

Conclusion: This article describes how each phase of the project was strengthened, through using triangulation within and between the different phases. This was done to ensure that the investigators could be confident in the confirmation and completeness of data, and assured of the validity and reliability of the final output of the ‘IMIA Knowledge Base’ that was endorsed by the IMIA Board in November 2009.


mixed method; triangulation; validity; knowledge base; keywords; cognitive map


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