Using XML and XSLT for flexible elicitation of mental-health risk knowledge

C.D. Buckingham*, A. Ahmed, A.E. Adams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current tools for assessing risks associated with mental-health problems require assessors to make high-level judgements based on clinical experience. This paper describes how new technologies can enhance qualitative research methods to identify lower-level cues underlying these judgements, which can be collected by people without a specialist mental-health background. Content analysis of interviews with 46 multidisciplinary mental-health experts exposed the cues and their interrelationships, which were represented by a mind map using software that stores maps as XML. All 46 mind maps were integrated into a single XML knowledge structure and analysed by a Lisp program to generate quantitative information about the numbers of experts associated with each part of it. The knowledge was refined by the experts, using software developed in Flash to record their collective views within the XML itself. These views specified how the XML should be transformed by XSLT, a technology for rendering XML, which resulted in a validated hierarchical knowledge structure associating patient cues with risks. Changing knowledge elicitation requirements were accommodated by flexible transformations of XML data using XSLT, which also facilitated generation of multiple data-gathering tools suiting different assessment circumstances and levels of mental-health knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalMedical Informatics and the Internet in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • knowledge engineering
  • mental-health risk assessment
  • mind maps
  • XML
  • XSLT


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