Methods Used in the Development of Common Data Models for Health Data: Scoping Review

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BACKGROUND: Common data models (CDMs) are essential tools for data harmonization, which can lead to significant improvements in the health domain. CDMs unite data from disparate sources and ease collaborations across institutions, resulting in the generation of large standardized data repositories across different entities. An overview of existing CDMs and methods used to develop these data sets may assist in the development process of future models for the health domain, such as for decision support systems.

OBJECTIVE: This scoping review investigates methods used in the development of CDMs for health data. We aim to provide a broad overview of approaches and guidelines that are used in the development of CDMs (ie, common data elements or common data sets) for different health domains on an international level.

METHODS: This scoping review followed the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) checklist. We conducted the literature search in prominent databases, namely, PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, and Scopus, starting from January 2000 until March 2022. We identified and screened 1309 articles. The included articles were evaluated based on the type of adopted method, which was used in the conception, users' needs collection, implementation, and evaluation phases of CDMs, and whether stakeholders (such as medical experts, patients' representatives, and IT staff) were involved during the process. Moreover, the models were grouped into iterative or linear types based on the imperativeness of the stages during development.

RESULTS: We finally identified 59 articles that fit our eligibility criteria. Of these articles, 45 specifically focused on common medical conditions, 10 focused on rare medical conditions, and the remaining 4 focused on both conditions. The development process usually involved stakeholders but in different ways (eg, working group meetings, Delphi approaches, interviews, and questionnaires). Twenty-two models followed an iterative process.

CONCLUSIONS: The included articles showed the diversity of methods used to develop a CDM in different domains of health. We highlight the need for more specialized CDM development methods in the health domain and propose a suggestive development process that might ease the development of CDMs in the health domain in the future.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere45116
Pages (from-to)e45116
JournalJMIR medical informatics
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2023

External IDs

Scopus 85167511492
ORCID /0000-0002-9888-8460/work/142254108
ORCID /0000-0002-1887-4772/work/143075280