Nonhypothesis-Driven Research: Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

  • Mollie R. CumminsEmail author
Part of the Health Informatics book series (HI)


Clinical information, stored over time, is a potentially rich source of data for clinical research. Knowledge discovery in databases (KDD), commonly known as data mining, is a process for pattern discovery and predictive modeling in large databases. KDD makes extensive use of data mining methods, automated processes, and algorithms that enable pattern recognition. Characteristically, data mining involves the use of machine learning methods developed in the domain of artificial intelligence. These methods have been applied to healthcare and biomedical data for a variety of purposes with good success and potential or realized clinical translation. Herein, the Fayyad model of knowledge discovery in databases is introduced. The steps of the process are described with select examples from clinical research informatics. These steps range from initial data selection to interpretation and evaluation. Commonly used data mining methods are surveyed: artificial neural networks, decision tree induction, support vector machines (kernel methods), association rule induction, and k-nearest neighbor. Methods for evaluating the models that result from the KDD process are closely linked to methods used in diagnostic medicine. These include the use of measures derived from a confusion matrix and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Data partitioning and model validation are critical aspects of evaluation. International efforts to develop and refine clinical data repositories are critically linked to the potential of these methods for developing new knowledge.


Knowledge discovery in databases Data mining Artificial neural networks Support vector machines Decision trees k-Nearest neighbor classification Clinical data repositories 


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© Springer International Publishing 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of NursingUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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