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Effects of pruning of a decision-tree for the ear, nose, and throat realm in primary health care based on case-notes

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In the primary health care center of Mjölby a sample of case notes in the ear-nose-and-throat realm (N=425) was computer processed using an inductive rule-based decision-tree generating program. As a result of incomplete information in the case-files, the decision trees were “noisy,” e.g., had branches and leaves without meaning. This led to a need for “pruning.” Various methods were tried. The effects of different methods of decision-tree generating and pruning are discussed. The choice of root argument and branching of the decision-trees suggested by the software was the most clinically applicable. The “statistic” approach to pruning gave the most compact and still most clinically relevant decision-tree. The pruned and edited decision trees are compared with a previously published preliminary essential data set for the ear-nose-and-throat realm in primary health care and then discussed as a possible decision support system for various primary health care groups in a practice setting.

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af Klercker, T. Effects of pruning of a decision-tree for the ear, nose, and throat realm in primary health care based on case-notes. J Med Syst 20, 215–226 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02263393

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Key Words

  • Induction
  • decision-tree
  • pruning
  • ENT
  • PHC
  • decision support
  • EDS
  • case based