Summary and Overview: Nursing Classification: What's in a Name?

This current posting of OJIN brings to light issues on standardized nursing language, vocabularies, and taxonomies. The need for a common language to communicate with consumers, health care providers and policy makers on both national and international levels is long overdue and is essential as we approach the 21st century. Authors in this issue concur that a common language will improve the delivery and documentation of patient care and enhance research efforts.

Gordon proposes that documenting care be systematically organized to advance nursing knowledge, to enhance nursing practice, and to improve care. She explores nursing nomenclature and classification system development from a historical perspective, delineating factors that have influenced this development. She reviews three major classification systems in practice in the United States: North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA), Outcome Classification and Intervention Classification. She concludes her article with a discussion on the development of an international classification system.

McCormick and Jones discuss the pros and cons of a single common vocabulary in documenting nursing and health care activities. Misinterpretation and the inability to communicate effectively using existing vocabularies have contributed to increased health care costs. They describe difficulties in the United States health care system caused by multiple vocabularies and classifications systems and identify the need to cross link the terms used in health care. A model is proposed to demonstrate the linking required to move classifications from the point of care, through networks and into universal levels.

Clark offers criteria for development of an international classification system. She describes the challenges of creating such a system including translation and transferring the meaning of concepts from one culture to another. The goal of standardized languages and classification systems for nursing is to develop a framework that will enable us to describe and compare nursing practice across nations.

Characteristics of a good nursing nomenclature from an informatics perspective are described by Zielstorff in the final article. She addresses the need for development of a nursing nomenclature that is compatible with an automated clinical information system. From her experience as a computer scientist and work with infomatics she describes five functions an automated system should perform.

As you read these articles please share your thoughts and insights and send your feedback on the issues raised to the editor of OJIN.

Note: The name of the Home Health Care Classification (HHCC) System was changed to the Clinical Care Classification (CCC) System in 2003.

© 1998 Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
Article published September 30, 1998

Citation: Doheny, M., (Sept. 30, 1998) "Nursing Classification: What's in a Name?" Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 3, No. 2, Overview.