Assisting Consumer Health Information Retrieval with Query Recommendations

Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (Impact Factor: 3.5). 01/2006; 13(1):80-90. DOI: 10.1197/jamia.M1820
Source: DBLP


Health information retrieval (HIR) on the Internet has become an important practice for millions of people, many of whom have problems forming effective queries. We have developed and evaluated a tool to assist people in health-related query formation.
We developed the Health Information Query Assistant (HIQuA) system. The system suggests alternative/additional query terms related to the user's initial query that can be used as building blocks to construct a better, more specific query. The recommended terms are selected according to their semantic distance from the original query, which is calculated on the basis of concept co-occurrences in medical literature and log data as well as semantic relations in medical vocabularies.
An evaluation of the HIQuA system was conducted and a total of 213 subjects participated in the study. The subjects were randomized into 2 groups. One group was given query recommendations and the other was not. Each subject performed HIR for both a predefined and a self-defined task.
The study showed that providing HIQuA recommendations resulted in statistically significantly higher rates of successful queries (odds ratio = 1.66, 95% confidence interval = 1.16-2.38), although no statistically significant impact on user satisfaction or the users' ability to accomplish the predefined retrieval task was found.
Providing semantic-distance-based query recommendations can help consumers with query formation during HIR.

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Available from: Qing Zeng-Treitler
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    • "[17] Furthermore, consumer satisfaction with the internet as a source of medical information does not seem to be strongly related to their success in searching it.[18] [19] Furthermore, internet searches can cause unnecessary anxiety about common symptoms , cyberchondria , in individuals with little medical training.[20] More positively, there is evidence that minorities with internet access are able to engage in information searching to overcome inequality in levels of access to healthcare information.[21] "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2015
    • "While this method improved the results for queries containing acronyms and layperson terms, it seems to be mainly improving results from PubMed, which might not be the most searched and useful resource for patients. Zeng et al. (2006) describe the system HIQuA (Health Information Query Assistant), aiming at assisting users querying a search system to get health information. This system recommends additional or alternative query terms, and combines three sources: (1) usage patterns of consumers; (2) controlled medical vocabularies; (3) concept co-occurrence in medical literature. "

    No preview · Conference Paper · Jan 2014
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    • "Reliability and validity of web-based information must be addressed. It is fundamental to assist the public in developing searching [60,61] and appraisal skills but also in balancing self-reliance and compliance with medical management of illness [5] and ensure physicians have adequate communication skills [7] and are prepared for patient questions [62]. New technology such as the Internet may help considerably in this endeavour. "
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    ABSTRACT: The knowledge about the relationship between health-related activities on the Internet (i.e. informed citizens) and individuals' control over their own experiences of health or illness (i.e. empowered citizens) is valuable but scarce. In this paper, we investigate the correlation between four ways of using the Internet for information on health or illness and citizens attitudes and behaviours toward health professionals and health systems and establish the profile of empowered eHealth citizens in Europe. Data was collected during April and May 2007 (N = 7022), through computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI). Respondents from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Portugal participated in the survey. The profiles were generated using logistic regressions and are based on: a) socio-demographic and health information, b) the level of use of health-related online services, c) the level of use of the Internet to get health information to decide whether to consult a health professional, prepare for a medical appointment and assess its outcome, and d) the impact of online health information on citizens' attitudes and behavior towards health professionals and health systems. Citizens using the Internet to decide whether to consult a health professional or to get a second opinion are likely to be frequent visitors of health sites, active participants of online health forums and recurrent buyers of medicines and other health related products online, while only infrequent epatients, visiting doctors they have never met face-to-face. Participation in online health communities seems to be related with more inquisitive and autonomous patients. The profiles of empowered eHealth citizens in Europe are situational and country dependent. The number of Europeans using the Internet to get health information to help them deal with a consultation is raising and having access to online health information seems to be associated with growing number of inquisitive and self-reliant patients. Doctors are increasingly likely to experience consultations with knowledgeable and empowered patients, who will challenge them in various ways.
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