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Search strategies on a new health information retrieval system

Xiangming Mu (University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Kun Lu (University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Hohyon Ryu (University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, and Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, and Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 22 June 2010

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Abstract

Purpose

The goals of this study are: to evaluate the merits of a newly developed health information retrieval system; to investigate users' search strategies when using the new search system; and to study the relationships between users' search strategies and their prior topic knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper developed a new health information retrieval system called MeshMed. A term browser and a tree browser are included in the new system in addition to the traditional search box. The term browser allows a user to search Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms using natural language. The tree browser presents a hierarchical tree structure of related MeSH terms. A user study with 30 participants was conducted to evaluate the benefits of MeshMed.

Findings

The paper found that MeshMed provides a user with more choices to select an appropriate searching component and form more effective search strategies. Based on the time a participant spent using different MeshMed components, the paper identified three different search styles: the traditional style, the novel style, and the balanced style, which falls in between. MeshMed was particularly helpful for users with low topic knowledge.

Originality/value

A new health information retrieval system (MeshMed) was designed and developed (and is currently available at http://129.89.43.129/meshmed). This is the first study to explore users' search strategies on such a system. The study results can inform the design of future clinical‐oriented health information retrieval systems.

Keywords

Citation

Mu, X., Lu, K. and Ryu, H. (2010), "Search strategies on a new health information retrieval system", Online Information Review, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 440-456. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684521011054062

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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