Variation of SNOMED CT Coding of Clinical Research Concepts Among Coding Experts

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Biomedical Research, Forms and Records Control, Humans, Rare Diseases, Semantics, Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine

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OBJECTIVE: To compare consistency of coding among professional SNOMED CT coders representing three commercial providers of coding services when coding clinical research concepts with SNOMED CT.

DESIGN: A sample of clinical research questions from case report forms (CRFs) generated by the NIH-funded Rare Disease Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) were sent to three coding companies with instructions to code the core concepts using SNOMED CT. The sample consisted of 319 question/answer pairs from 15 separate studies. The companies were asked to select SNOMED CT concepts (in any form, including post-coordinated) that capture the core concept(s) reflected in the question. Also, they were asked to state their level of certainty, as well as how precise they felt their coding was.

MEASUREMENTS: Basic frequencies were calculated to determine raw level agreement among the companies and other descriptive information. Krippendorff's alpha was used to determine a statistical measure of agreement among the coding companies for several measures (semantic, certainty, and precision).

RESULTS: No significant level of agreement among the experts was found.

CONCLUSION: There is little semantic agreement in coding of clinical research data items across coders from 3 professional coding services, even using a very liberal definition of agreement.

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Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, v. 14, no. 4, p. 497-506