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|Title: ||Reformulation of Consumer Health Queries with Professional Terminology: A Pilot Study|
|Authors: ||Plovnick, Robert M|
Zeng, Qing T
|Keywords: ||Original Paper|
|Issue Date: ||3-Sep-2004|
|Publisher: ||Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada|
|Citation: ||Robert M Plovnick, Qing T Zeng. Reformulation of Consumer Health Queries with Professional Terminology: A Pilot Study. J Med Internet Res 2004;6(3):e27 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2004/3/e27/>|
|Abstract: ||[This item is a preserved copy and is not necessarily the most recent version. To view the current item, visit http://www.jmir.org/2004/3/e27/ ]
The Internet is becoming an increasingly important resource for health-information seekers. However, consumers often do not use effective search strategies. Query reformulation is one potential intervention to improve the effectiveness of consumer searches.
We endeavored to answer the research question: "Does reformulating original consumer queries with preferred terminology from the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus lead to better search returns?"
Consumer-generated queries with known goals (n=16) that could be mapped to UMLS Metathesaurus terminology were used as test samples. Reformulated queries were generated by replacing user terms with Metathesaurus-preferred synonyms (n=18). Searches (n=36) were performed using both a consumer information site and a general search engine. Top 30 precision was used as a performance indicator to compare the performance of the original and reformulated queries.
Forty-two percent of the searches utilizing reformulated queries yielded better search returns than their associated original queries, 19% yielded worse results, and the results for the remaining 39% did not change. We identified ambiguous lay terms, expansion of acronyms, and arcane professional terms as causes for changes in performance.
We noted a trend towards increased precision when providing substitutions for lay terms, abbreviations, and acronyms. We have found qualitative evidence that reformulating queries with professional terminology may be a promising strategy to improve consumer health-information searches, although we caution that automated reformulation could in fact worsen search performance when the terminology is ill-fitted or arcane.|
|Description: ||Reviewer: Tse, Tony|
|Other Identifiers: ||doi:10.2196/jmir.6.3.e27|
|Rights: ||Copyright (cc) Retained by author(s) under a Creative Commons License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/|
|Appears in Collections:||Volume 6 (2004)|
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