Payoffs and pitfalls in using knowledge-bases for consumer health search

2018 | Information Retrieval Journal
Share via twitter Share via email Download PDF



Consumer health search is a challenging domain with vocabulary mismatch and considerable domain expertise hampering peoples’ ability to formulate effective queries. We posit that using knowledge bases for query reformulation may help alleviate this problem.

How to exploit knowledge bases for effective CHS is nontrivial, involving a swathe of key choices and design decisions (many of which are not explored in the literature). Here we rigorously empirically evaluate the impact these different choices have on retrieval effectiveness. A state-of-the-art knowledge- base retrieval model — the Entity Query Feature Expansion model — was used to evaluate these choices, which include: which knowledge base to use (specialised vs. general purpose), how to construct the knowledge base, how to extract entities from queries and map them to entities in the knowledge base, what part of the knowledge base to use for query expansion, and if to augment the knowledge base search process with relevance feedback.

While knowledge base retrieval has been proposed as a solution for CHS, this paper delves into the finer details of doing this effectively, highlighting both payoffs and pitfalls. It aims to provide some lessons to others in advancing the state-of-the-art in CHS.