Can Word Embedding Help Term Mismatch Problem? – A Result Analysis on Clinical Retrieval Tasks

  • Danchen Zhang
  • Daqing HeEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10766)


Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems assist doctors to make clinical decisions by searching for medical literature based on patients’ medical records. Past studies showed that correctly predicting patient’s diagnosis can significantly increase the performance of such clinical retrieval systems. However, our studies showed that there are still a large portion of relevant documents ranked very low due to term mismatch problem. Different to other retrieval tasks, queries issued to this clinical retrieval system have already been expanded with the most informative terms for disease prediction. It is therefore a great challenge for traditional Pseudo Relevance Feedback (PRF) methods to incorporate new informative terms from top K pseudo relevant documents. Consequently, we explore in this paper word embedding for obtaining further improvements because the word vectors were all trained on much larger collections and they can identify words that are used in similar contexts. Our study utilized test collections from the CDS track in TREC 2015, trained on 2014 data. Experiment results show that word embedding can significantly improve retrieval performance, and term mismatch problem can be largely resolved, particularly for the low ranked relevant documents. However, for highly ranked documents with less term mismatching problem, word emending’s improvement can also be replaced by a traditional language model.


Clinical Decision Support Word embedding Term mismatch 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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