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June 13, 1966

III. Statistical Analysis of Narrative Content

Author Affiliations

From the New York University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Bellevue Hospital Center, and the Data Processing and Computation Laboratory, Research Division, School of Engineering and Science, New York University, New York.

JAMA. 1966;196(11):957-963. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100240091018

The use of the variable-field-length (VFL) format for obtaining narrative medical data in a form suitable for computer input and subsequent storage, analysis, and retrieval has been described previously (see p 950).1 This report discusses the computer programs which have been produced, some data-analytical results thus far demonstrated, and the use of a large-scale computer facility for statistical analysis of narrative medical data. The group of programs is outlined by the use of a specific example. The advantages, limitations, costs, and possible future applications of computer processing of narrative medical data are also discussed.

The utility of the VFL format for the analysis of medical narrative data depends on the ability to produce computer programs that will perform medically meaningful operations on the data in a convenient and economical way. Such operations include, among others, the retrieval of sections of the records on the basis of content. For example,

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