Characterizing terminology applied by authors and database producers to informatics literature on consumer engagement with wearable devices

Kristine M. Alpi, Christie L. Martin, Joseph M. Plasek, Scott Sittig, Catherine Arnott Smith, Elizabeth V. Weinfurter, Jennifer K. Wells, Rachel Wong, Robin R. Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Identifying consumer health informatics (CHI) literature is challenging. To recommend strategies to improve discoverability, we aimed to characterize controlled vocabulary and author terminology applied to a subset of CHI literature on wearable technologies. Materials and Methods: To retrieve articles from PubMed that addressed patient/consumer engagement with wearables, we developed a search strategy of textwords and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). To refine our methodology, we used a random sample of 200 articles from 2016 to 2018. A descriptive analysis of articles (N ¼ 2522) from 2019 identified 308 (12.2%) CHI-related articles, for which we characterized their assigned terminology. We visualized the 100 most frequent terms assigned to the articles from MeSH, author keywords, CINAHL, and Engineering Databases (Compendex and Inspec together). We assessed the overlap of CHI terms among sources and evaluated terms related to consumer engagement. Results: The 308 articles were published in 181 journals, more in health journals (82%) than informatics (11%). Only 44% were indexed with the MeSH term “wearable electronic devices.” Author keywords were common (91%) but rarely represented consumer engagement with device data, eg, self-monitoring (n ¼ 12, 0.7%) or self-management (n ¼ 9, 0.5%). Only 10 articles (3%) had terminology from all sources (authors, PubMed, CINAHL, Compendex, and Inspec). Discussion: Our main finding was that consumer engagement was not well represented in health and engineering database thesauri. Conclusions: Authors of CHI studies should indicate consumer/patient engagement and the specific technology investigated in titles, abstracts, and author keywords to facilitate discovery by readers and expand vocabularies and indexing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1284-1292
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. We thank our peer reviewers for their suggestions to improve this manuscript. The search strategy development reported here was mentioned in Martin CL, Weinfurter EV, Alpi KM, et al. Leveraging Library and Information Science to Discover Consumer Health Informatics Research. In: Hsueh PS; Wetter T; Zhu X, ed. Personal Health Informatics: Patient Participation in Precision Health. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland; 2022: 305–27. Background on searching this literature was discussed in Martin CL. Leveraging your inner librarian! Challenges and tips for researchers. In: Tiase, V. L., Austin, R. R., Martin, C. L., Masterson Creber, R., & Kitsiou, S. (2019, November 16–20). Harnessing data from mHealth apps: Opportunities and challenges for clinicians & researchers (Panel Presentation). American Medical Informatics Association 2019 Annual Symposium, Washington, DC.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Medical Informatics Association. All rights reserved.


  • author keywords
  • consumer health informatics
  • controlled vocabulary
  • patient engagement
  • wearable devices

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing terminology applied by authors and database producers to informatics literature on consumer engagement with wearable devices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this