ICD 11 – The Content Model, Part 2

ICD 11 book coverIn this second part of the ICD 11 Content Model posts, I will aim to provide an insight into the basic structure of the model.

As you can read from the post ICD 11 – The Content Model, Part 1 (this link will open in a new tab of your current window), the revision process of the The 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD ) is a broad participatory Webbased development process by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This collaborative development of new content and proposed changes for ICD 11 is the responsibility of a Revision Steering Group (RSG) within the WHO ICD Revision Organisation Structure, which serves as the planning and steering authority in the update and the run-up to the revision process of ICD 11.

Today the Beta Draft of ICD 11 is available as the culmination of an information infrastructure and workflow processes started initially by Topic Advisory Groups (TAGs) for various specialty areas. The Webbased development of ICD 11 which is still open for comments and suggestions by interested parties in a social process on the Web, is integrated with knowledge of (i) diseases and health conditions, the eotiology and the anatomical and physiological aspects of the disease, (ii) input of all chapters and codes from existing clinical modifications of the ICD, and (iii) mappings to other terminologies and ontologies from other WHO-FIC (Family of International Classifications) members into computer systems, thus creating draft classifications for field testing as it is available in the Beta Draft of ICD 11.

I can prefigure the complex problems of developing ICD 11, which surely was undertaken and managed by using systematic approaches to deal with its development in a prescribed way and by using analytical techniques to identify and dissect the orderly arrangement of the mass of data already in a confused state into logical patterns thus promoting understanding and pointing the way to an appropriate decision within a clearly defined framework and a concrete context, the ICD 11 Content Model.

Thus, the Health Informatics and Modeling Topic Advisory Group (HIM-TAG) – also a part of the WHO ICD Revision Organisation Structure,  was entrusted to develop the ICD-11 Its task was to ensure that the Content Model remains the critical component of ICD 11 that specifies the structure and details of the information that should be maintained for each ICD category in the revision process.

The WHO (2013) describes the Content Model as a structured framework that captures the knowledge that underpins the definition of an ICD entity in the following ways:

  • includes the full scope of health care diseases and related health conditions (such as traditional medicine entries) so as to be as congruent with the overall structure 
  • ICD 11 entities are represented in a standard way from the currently set of different 13 defined dimensions or  main “parameters”, each parameter expressed using standard terminologies known as “value sets” by observing basic taxonomic and ontological principles including:
    1. key definitions: disease, disorder, syndrome, sign, symptom, trauma, external cause,
    2. separation of disability and joint use with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF),
    3. attributes  – etiology, pathophysiology, intervention response, genetic base, and

    4. linkages to other classifications and ontologies, including that of for Primary Care, Clinical Care and Research
  • the Content Model enables content experts to view and curate i.e to pull together and sift through and select for presentation its contents using software tools that allows automatic error checking and enforces constraint enforcement thus maintaining the correctness or validity of the stored data (integrity ). 

Each category ICD 11 entity in the Content Model will be described by 13 different, defined dimensions or main “parameters” as can be seen below.


More in the next post on the ICD 11 Content Model.


  1. World Health Organisation, 2012, Content Model, viewed 18 March 2013, < http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/revision/contentmodel/en/index.html >