Understanding user intents in online health forums

Thomas Zhang, Jason H.D. Cho, Chengxiang Zhai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Online health forums provide a convenient way for patients to obtain medical information and connect with physicians and peers outside of clinical settings. However, large quan- Tities of unstructured and diversified content generated on these forums make it difficult for users to digest and ex- Tract useful information. Understanding user intents would enable forums to more accurately and efficiently find rele- vant information by filtering out threads that do not match particular intents. In this paper, we derive a taxonomy of intents to capture user information needs in online health forums, and propose novel pattern based features for use with a multiclass support vector machine (SVM) classifier to classify original thread posts according to their underly- ing intents. Since no dataset existed for this task, we employ three annotators to manually label a dataset of 1,200 Health- Boards posts spanning four forum topics. Experimental re- sults show that SVM with pattern based features is highly capable of identifying user intents in forum posts, reach- ing a maximum precision of 75%. Furthermore, comparable classification performance can be achieved by training and testing on posts from different forum topics (e.g. training on allergy posts, testing on depression posts). Finally, we run a trained classiffier on a MedHelp dataset to analyze the distribution of intents of posts from different forum topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationACM BCB 2014 - 5th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages220-229
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450328944
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2014
Event5th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics, ACM BCB 2014 - Newport Beach, United States
Duration: Sep 20 2014Sep 23 2014

Publication series

NameACM BCB 2014 - 5th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics

Other

Other5th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics, ACM BCB 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNewport Beach
Period9/20/149/23/14

Keywords

  • Forum intents
  • Online health fo- rums
  • Pattern based features
  • Support vector machines
  • User intent classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software
  • Biomedical Engineering

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