SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

A multidimensional-scaling approach is used to analyze frequently used medical-topic terms in queries submitted to a Web-based consumer health information system. Based on a year-long transaction log file, five medical focus keywords (stomach, hip, stroke, depression, and cholesterol) and their co-occurring query terms are analyzed. An overlap-coefficient similarity measure and a conversion measure are used to calculate the proximity of terms to one another based on their co-occurrences in queries. The impact of the dimensionality of the visual configuration, the cutoff point of term co-occurrence for inclusion in the analysis, and the Minkowski metric power k on the stress value are discussed. A visual clustering of groups of terms based on the proximity within each focus-keyword group is also conducted. Term distributions within each visual configuration are characterized and are compared with formal medical vocabulary. This investigation reveals that there are significant differences between consumer health query-term usage and more formal medical terminology used by medical professionals when describing the same medical subject. Future directions are discussed.