Why are harmonized terminologies important?
Precise and easily understood communication is a critical requirement for sharing scientific results. To achieve this precision, the data and information that are collected must be described in unambiguous terms that are readily understood and agreed upon by all. The collection of such terms, a “harmonized terminology”, must be accurately defined and used consistently by both data generators and data consumers. The rigorous use of controlled terminologies ensures that results from various research efforts can be communicated, combined, and analyzed as a whole, expanding their usefulness.
To foster greater accessibility and exchange of information in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) broad clinical research portfolio, the Institute has established an effort to harmonize pediatric terminology for use in current and future research studies. By harmonizing terms, the NICHD can more easily combine results from its pediatric research efforts with those of other studies and networks, to broaden scientific understanding and extend the impact of the Institute’s research investment.
Utilizing a harmonized pediatric terminology involves an understanding of, and agreement to use, specific definitions for research terms and concepts. This agreement ensures that data collected from different studies, centers, or hospitals are all comparable and understandable (interoperable). The development of a harmonized terminology is a fundamental step toward enabling interoperability and data exchange, which then allows aggregation and comparison of data collected at different times or by different groups, resulting in richer, more comprehensive analyses. Such a harmonized terminology requires consensus among the user community, in this case pediatric clinicians, to ensure successful implementation.
To learn more about NICHD’s Pediatric Terminology Harmonization Initiative, browse the links below.