Information Retrieval

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 173–202 | Cite as

Knowledge-based query expansion to support scenario-specific retrieval of medical free text

Article

Abstract

In retrieving medical free text, users are often interested in answers pertinent to certain scenarios that correspond to common tasks performed in medical practice, e.g., treatment or diagnosis of a disease. A major challenge in handling such queries is that scenario terms in the query (e.g., treatment) are often too general to match specialized terms in relevant documents (e.g., chemotherapy). In this paper, we propose a knowledge-based query expansion method that exploits the UMLS knowledge source to append the original query with additional terms that are specifically relevant to the query's scenario(s). We compared the proposed method with traditional statistical expansion that expands terms which are statistically correlated but not necessarily scenario specific. Our study on two standard testbeds shows that the knowledge-based method, by providing scenario-specific expansion, yields notable improvements over the statistical method in terms of average precision-recall. On the OHSUMED testbed, for example, the improvement is more than 5% averaging over all scenario-specific queries studied and about 10% for queries that mention certain scenarios, such as treatment of a disease and differential diagnosis of a symptom/disease.

Keywords

Medical information retrieval Scenario-specific information retrieval Knowledge-based information retrieval Query expansion Knowledge-based systems 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUCLALos AngelesUSA

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