Automated question answering for clinical comparison questions
Leonhard, Annette Christa
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This thesis describes the development and evaluation of new automated Question Answering (QA) methods tailored to clinical comparison questions that give clinicians a rank-ordered list of MEDLINE® abstracts targeted to natural language clinical drug comparison questions (e.g. ”Have any studies directly compared the effects of Pioglitazone and Rosiglitazone on the liver?”). Three corpora were created to develop and evaluate a new QA system for clinical comparison questions called RetroRank. RetroRank takes the clinician’s plain text question as input, processes it and outputs a rank-ordered list of potential answer candidates, i.e. MEDLINE® abstracts, that is reordered using new post-retrieval ranking strategies to ensure the most topically-relevant abstracts are displayed as high in the result set as possible. RetroRank achieves a significant improvement over the PubMed recency baseline and performs equal to or better than previous approaches to post-retrieval ranking relying on query frames and annotated data such as the approach by Demner-Fushman and Lin (2007). The performance of RetroRank shows that it is possible to successfully use natural language input and a fully automated approach to obtain answers to clinical drug comparison questions. This thesis also introduces two new evaluation corpora of clinical comparison questions with “gold standard” references that are freely available and are a valuable resource for future research in medical QA.