Consumers and patients are confronted with a plethora of health care information, especially through the proliferation of web content resources. Democratization of the web is an important milestone for patients and consumers since it helps to empower them, make them better advocates on their own behalf and foster better, more-informed decisions about their health. Yet lack of familiarity with medical vocabulary is a major problem for patients in accessing the available information. As a first step to providing better vocabulary support for patients, this study collected and analyzed patient and clinician terms to confirm and quantitatively assess their differences. We also analyzed the information retrieval (IR) performance resulting from these terms. The results showed that patient terminology does differ from clinician terminology in many respects including misspelling rate, mapping rate and semantic type distribution, and patient terms lead to poorer results in information retrieval.
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