The Omaha System: A systematic review of the recent literature

Maxim Topaz, Nadya Golfenshtein, Kathryn H. Bowles

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background The Omaha System (OS) is one of the oldest of the American Nurses Association recognized standardized terminologies describing and measuring the impact of healthcare services. This systematic review presents the state of science on the use of the OS in practice, research, and education. Aims (1) To identify, describe and evaluate the publications on the OS between 2004 and 2011, (2) to identify major trends in the use of the OS in research, practice, and education, and (3) to suggest areas for future research. Methods Systematic search in the largest online healthcare databases (PUBMED, CINAHL, Scopus, PsycINFO, Ovid) from 2004 to 2011. Methodological quality of the reviewed research studies was evaluated. Results 56 publications on the OS were identified and analyzed. The methodological quality of the reviewed research studies was relatively high. Over time, publications' focus shifted from describing clients' problems toward outcomes research. There was an increasing application of advanced statistical methods and a significant portion of authors focused on classification and interoperability research. There was an increasing body of international literature on the OS. Little research focused on the theoretical aspects of the OS, the effective use of the OS in education, or cultural adaptations of the OS outside the USA. Conclusions The OS has a high potential to provide meaningful and high quality information about complex healthcare services. Further research on the OS should focus on its applicability in healthcare education, theoretical underpinnings and international validity. Researchers analyzing the OS data should address how they attempted to mitigate the effects of missing data in analyzing their results and clearly present the limitations of their studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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