Decision support systems from a health informatics perspective: Dissertation

Pirkko Nykänen

Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


Our theme in this study is decision support systems in a health informatics context. A decision support system can be approached from two major disciplinary perspectives, those of information systems science and artificial intelligence, which offer different conceptualisations of a decision support system. From an information systems science perspective, the approaches taken have been functionalist and development- and implementation-oriented, resulting in systems being developed mostly to support managerial decision making. In artificial intelligence-based approaches, on the other hand, the focus has been on modelling of an expert task and on implementation of that model as a knowledge-based system. Under these latter approaches, the focus has been on the design of systems to support individual decision making in tasks that are considered to require intelligence. In neither of these perspectives has the social and organisational contexts of decision support systems been given much attention.

We present in this study an extended ontology for a decision support system in health informatics. The ontology emphasises the need to cover environmental and contextual variables as an integral part of a decision support systems development methodology. With the addition of these variables, the focus in decision support systems development shifts from a task ontology towards a domain ontology. The variables presented have been further connected to a development and evaluation framework, which applies incremental development using evolutionary prototyping. The presented ontology and framework help the system developers to take the system's context into account through the set of defined variables which are linked to the application domain. This results in systems that support decision making in the health care organisational context and in the user's domain, application and knowledge contexts.

The presented ontology is founded on experience from related research fields, those of information systems science and artificial intelligence, as well as being informed by analysed five case studies. The result of this sudy is demonstration of a pragmatic approach for decision support systems development in health informatics domain. Further research is needed with the operationalisation of the developed ontology.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Award date16 Aug 2000
Place of PublicationTampere
Print ISBNs951-44-4874-X
Electronic ISBNs951-44-4897-9
Publication statusPublished - 2000
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


Dive into the research topics of 'Decision support systems from a health informatics perspective: Dissertation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this