With the increased use of Internet, a large number of consumers first consult on line resources for their healthcare decisions. The problem of the existing information structure primarily lies in the fact that the vocabulary used in consumer queries is intrinsically different from the vocabulary represented in medical literature. Consequently, the medical information retrieval often provides poor search results. Since consumers make medical decisions based on the search results, building an effective information retrieval system becomes an essential issue. By reviewing the foundational concepts and application components of medical information retrieval, this paper will contribute to a body of research that seeks appropriate answers to a question like “How can we design a medical information retrieval system that can satisfy consumer’s information needs?”
Background Concept: Consumer Vocabulary
In this section, the concept of consumer health vocabulary is discussed. The definition of consumer health vocabulary, current issues of consumer health vocabulary, and the problems of consumer health vocabulary in regards to information retrieval system are main topics of discussion in this section.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Ontology: Structural model that represents concepts and relations of the concepts within a domain to reason about objects in the domain.
Vocabulary Mapping: A translation mechanism that links one language to another to promote communication between the users of different languages.
Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE): A database of literature in life science and medical informatics.
Unified Medical Language System (UMLS): A controlled medical vocabulary with defined terms and structured mapping amongst the terms.
Information Retrieval: A discipline that concerns effective transfer of information between creator of information and user of information. In the system perspective, representation, storage, organization, access, and distribution of information are studied, while, in the user perspective, various information seeking models and how to satisfy users’ information need are studied.
Medical Subject Headings (MESH): A controlled vocabulary and/or metadata system of medical subjects for the purpose of indexing life science literature.
Consumer Informatics: A branch of medical informatics that concerns healthcare consumers’ information need, concentrating on their access to medical information through studying methods and models of healthcare consumers’ use of information system.