"OPTImAL": An ontology for patient adherence modeling in physical activity domain

Kristina Livitckaia (Corresponding Author), Vassilis Koutkias, Evangelia Kouidi, Mark van Gils, Nikolaos Maglaveras, Ioanna Chouvarda

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Maintaining physical fitness is a crucial component of the therapeutic process for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Despite the known importance of being physically active, patient adherence to exercise, both in daily life and during cardiac rehabilitation (CR), is low. Patient adherence is frequently composed of numerous determinants associated with different patient aspects (e.g., psychological, clinical, etc.). Understanding the influence of such determinants is a central component of developing personalized interventions to improve or maintain patient adherence. Medical research produced evidence regarding factors affecting patients' adherence to physical activity regimen. However, the heterogeneity of the available data is a significant challenge for knowledge reusability. Ontologies constitute one of the methods applied for efficient knowledge sharing and reuse. In this paper, we are proposing an ontology called OPTImAL, focusing on CVD patient adherence to physical activity and exercise training. Methods: OPTImAL was developed following the Ontology Development 101 methodology and refined based on the NeOn framework. First, we defined the ontology specification (i.e., purpose, scope, target users, etc.). Then, we elicited domain knowledge based on the published studies. Further, the model was conceptualized, formalized and implemented, while the developed ontology was validated for its consistency. An independent cardiologist and three CR trainers evaluated the ontology for its appropriateness and usefulness. Results: We developed a formal model that includes 142 classes, ten object properties, and 371 individuals, that describes the relations of different factors of CVD patient profile to adherence and adherence quality, as well as the associated types and dimensions of physical activity and exercise. 2637 logical axioms were constructed to comprise the overall concepts that the ontology defines. The ontology was successfully validated for its consistency and preliminary evaluated for its appropriateness and usefulness in medical practice. Conclusions: OPTImAL describes relations of 320 factors originated from 60 multidimensional aspects (e.g., social, clinical, psychological, etc.) affecting CVD patient adherence to physical activity and exercise. The formal model is evidence-based and can serve as a knowledge tool in the practice of cardiac rehabilitation experts, supporting the process of activity regimen recommendation for better patient adherence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number92
    Number of pages15
    JournalBMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2019
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Exercise
    • Health behavior
    • Knowledge base
    • Ontology
    • Patient adherence
    • Physical activity
    • Rehabilitation
    • Research data modeling


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