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Disaster hazard research conducted by Australia’s Monash University leads to new SNOMED CT content

January 19, 2024

Upon receiving a request from SNOMED International Member, Australia, the organization recently incorporated new and relevant climate and natural disaster concepts in the International Edition of SNOMED CT.

Fulfilment of the request exemplifies the multifaceted and collaborative processes that drive the ongoing development and improvement of SNOMED CT, the world’s most comprehensive clinical terminology. Signalling the effectiveness of the content development process, it is the users, Members, researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders that identify gaps and work together with SNOMED International to discuss, model and include relevant content in SNOMED CT.

The request for inclusion of climate content in SNOMED CT was driven by the findings of a study titled Evaluating the representation of disaster hazards in SNOMED CT: gaps and opportunities, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, in which researchers from Australia’s Monash University examined gaps in clinical terminologies available to healthcare professionals during disaster-related events. In particular, it found meteorological, hydrological, extraterrestrial, geohazard, environmental, technological and societal content required coverage in SNOMED CT. 

The study, which mapped the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-International Science Council’s Hazard Information Profiles to SNOMED CT, provided a list of concepts in which climate and disaster related content fell short in SNOMED CT. For example, research revealed that SNOMED CT lacked content related to “heatwave” and “drought,” phenomena that have intensified due to climate change and that have significant impacts on human health, migration patterns and armed conflict situations globally.

In response, approximately 90 percent of the requested missing concepts identified in the study and submitted by Australia’s SNOMED CT National Release Centre (NRC) have been included in SNOMED CT. 

“SNOMED International recognizes the work of researchers who authored this report along with the Australian NRC for requesting the addition of this content,” says SNOMED International Chief Terminologist Dr. James Case. “As an agile standards development organization, this is a great example of how we engage and work with Members to prioritize and respond to their content requests. This ensures clinical and environmental changes on the ground, including promotion of relevant content to the International Edition, are addressed as quickly as possible.” 

With SNOMED International’s move to releasing the International Edition monthly, the content will be available to users more quickly than in the past, when the International Edition was published twice a year. The addition of climate and natural disaster related content received, reviewed and quality assured by SNOMED International in late June of 2023 is a prime use case for the move to frequent releases, as was the rapid inclusion of COVID-19 content at the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020.

The study also noted the major role that nursing, the largest professional group in healthcare, plays in defining the health indicators that will be important in the overall monitoring of health interventions to support communities in disaster mitigation, preparation, response and recovery, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. The 2021 integration of the International Classification for Nursing Practice into SNOMED CT and release as a reference set will help providers and policymakers better plan, implement and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of policies, procedures and actions related to a broad array of disaster events.


SNOMED International is a not-for-profit organization that owns and develops SNOMED CT, the world's most comprehensive healthcare terminology product. We play an essential role in improving the health of humankind by determining standards for a codified language that represents groups of clinical terms. This enables healthcare information to be exchanged globally for the benefit of patients and other stakeholders. We are committed to the rigorous evolution of our products and services, to deliver continuous innovation for the global healthcare community. SNOMED International is the trading name of the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation.

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