International Classification of Diseases clinical coding training: An international survey

Lucia Otero Varela, Chelsea Doktorchik, Natalie Wiebe, Danielle A Southern, Søren Knudsen, Pallavi Mathur, Hude Quan, Cathy A Eastwood

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review



The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is widely used by clinical coders worldwide for clinical coding morbidity data into administrative health databases. Accordingly, hospital data quality largely depends on the coders’ skills acquired during ICD training, which varies greatly across countries.
To characterise the current landscape of international ICD clinical coding training.

An online questionnaire was created to survey the 194 World Health Organization (WHO) member countries. Questions focused on the training provided to clinical coding professionals. The survey was distributed to potential participants who met specific criteria, and to organisations specialised in the topic, such as WHO Collaborating Centres, to be forwarded to their representatives. Responses were analysed using descriptive statistics.

Data from 47 respondents from 26 countries revealed disparities in all inquired topics. However, most participants reported clinical coders as the primary person assigning ICD codes. Although training was available in all countries, some did not mandate training qualifications, and those that did differed in type and duration of training, with college or university degree being most common. Clinical coding certificates most frequently entailed passing a certification exam. Most countries offered continuing training opportunities, and provided a range of support resources for clinical coders.

Variability in clinical coder training could affect data collection worldwide, thus potentially hindering international comparability of health data.

These findings could encourage countries to improve their resources and training programs available for clinical coders and will ultimately be valuable to the WHO for the standardisation of ICD training.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalHealth information management : journal of the Health Information Management Association of Australia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

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