The temporal aspects of clinical guidelines

Paolo Terenziani, Efrat German, Yuval Shahar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Temporal aspects play a major role within clinical guidelines. Temporal issues arise when considering both guidelines per se, and the application of guidelines to specific patients. As a matter of fact, guidelines per se specify different diagnostic and\or therapeutic patterns, and temporal constraints on the intended times of execution of the actions they contain are an intrinsic part of guidelines themselves. Moreover, guidelines must be executed on the basis of patients' data, which are intrinsically temporal data (consider, e.g., the time when symptoms hold). Devising suitable representation formalisms to properly model such pieces of temporal information is a challenging task, for which several solutions have been proposed in the last years. Besides representation formalisms, temporal reasoning methodologies are also needed. Temporal abstraction is needed in order to infer abstract temporal data (as described in guideline action conditions) from "raw" timestamped patient data. Moreover, temporal constraint propagation is also needed, both at acquisition and at execution time. During acquisition, temporal constraint propagation is used to detect whether the temporal constraints in the guideline are consistent. At execution time, it is needed in order to check whether the actual time of execution of actions has respected the temporal constraints in the guideline, and to detect which are the next candidate actions to be executed, on the basis of the temporal constraints in the guideline. This chapter sketches some of the most important recent results about the above issues.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputer-based Medical Guidelines and Protocols
Subtitle of host publicationA Primer and Current Trends
PublisherIOS Press
ISBN (Print)9781586038731
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008

Publication series

NameStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
ISSN (Print)0926-9630
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8365


  • Qualitative and quantitative temporal constraints
  • Temporal abstraction
  • Temporal constraint propagation
  • Temporal databases
  • Temporal patterns
  • Temporal representation languages
  • Timestamped data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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