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big data, nursing theory, Omaha System, ontology, terminology, venous ulcer



  1. Monsen, Karen A.
  2. Kelechi, Teresa J.
  3. McRae, Marion E.
  4. Mathiason, Michelle A.
  5. Martin, Karen S.


Background: The growth and diversification of nursing theory, nursing terminology, and nursing data enable a convergence of theory- and data-driven discovery in the era of big data research. Existing datasets can be viewed through theoretical and terminology perspectives using visualization techniques in order to reveal new patterns and generate hypotheses. The Omaha System is a standardized terminology and metamodel that makes explicit the theoretical perspective of the nursing discipline and enables terminology-theory testing research.


Objective: The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the approach by exploring a large research dataset consisting of 95 variables (demographics, temperature measures, anthropometrics, and standardized instruments measuring quality of life and self-efficacy) from a theory-based perspective using the Omaha System. Aims were to (a) examine the Omaha System dataset to understand the sample at baseline relative to Omaha System problem terms and outcome measures, (b) examine relationships within the normalized Omaha System dataset at baseline in predicting adherence, and (c) examine relationships within the normalized Omaha System dataset at baseline in predicting incident venous ulcer.


Methods: Variables from a randomized clinical trial of a cryotherapy intervention for the prevention of venous ulcers were mapped onto Omaha System terms and measures to derive a theoretical framework for the terminology-theory testing study. The original dataset was recoded using the mapping to create an Omaha System dataset, which was then examined using visualization to generate hypotheses. The hypotheses were tested using standard inferential statistics. Logistic regression was used to predict adherence and incident venous ulcer.


Results: Findings revealed novel patterns in the psychosocial characteristics of the sample that were discovered to be drivers of both adherence (Mental health Behavior: OR = 1.28, 95% CI [1.02, 1.60]; AUC = .56) and incident venous ulcer (Mental health Behavior: OR = 0.65, 95% CI [0.45, 0.93]; Neuro-musculo-skeletal function Status: OR = 0.69, 95% CI [0.47, 1.00]; male: OR = 3.08, 95% CI [1.15, 8.24]; not married: OR = 2.70, 95% CI [1.00, 7.26]; AUC = .76).


Discussion: The Omaha System was employed as ontology, nursing theory, and terminology to bridge data and theory and may be considered a data-driven theorizing methodology. Novel findings suggest a relationship between psychosocial factors and incident venous ulcer outcomes. There is potential to employ this method in further research, which is needed to generate and test hypotheses from other datasets to extend scientific investigations from existing data.