Design and implementation of a multicriteria medical decision support system for diagnosis and treatment

Dorothy Lee Stowers, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Health care providers face the problem of trying to make decisions with inadequate information and also with an overload of (often contradictory) information. Physicians often choose treatment long before they know which disease is present. Indeed, uncertainty is intrinsic to the practice of medicine. Decision analysis can help physicians structure and work through a medical decision problem, and can provide reassurance that decisions are rational and consistent with the beliefs and preferences of other physicians and patients. The primary purpose of this research project is to develop the theory, methods, techniques and tools necessary for designing and implementing a system to support solving medical decision problems. A case study involving “abdominal pain” serves as a prototype for implementing the system. The research, however, focuses on a generic class of problems and aims at covering theoretical as well as practical aspects of the system developed. The main contributions of this research are: (1) bridging the gap between the statistical approach and the knowledge-based (expert) approach to medical decision making; (2) linking a collection of methods, techniques and tools together to allow for the design of a medical decision support system, based on a framework that involves the Analytic Network Process (ANP), the generalization of the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to dependence and feedback, for problems involving diagnosis and treatment; (3) enhancing the representation and manipulation of uncertainty in the ANP framework by incorporating group consensus weights; and (4) developing a computer program to assist in the implementation of the system.

Subject Area

Biostatistics|Public health|Health care

Recommended Citation

Stowers, Dorothy Lee, "Design and implementation of a multicriteria medical decision support system for diagnosis and treatment" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9929468.