Effects of Language and Terminology on the Usage of Health Query Suggestions

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Carla Lopes
Cristina Ribeiro
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Searching for health information is one of the most popular activities on the Web. In this domain, users frequently encounter difficulties in query formulation, either because they lack knowledge of the proper medical terms or because they misspell them. To overcome these difficulties and attempt to retrieve higher-quality content, we developed a query suggestion system that provides alternative queries combining the users' native language and English language with lay and medico-scientific terminology. To assess how the language and terminology impact the use of suggestions, we conducted a user study with 40 subjects considering their English proficiency, health literacy and topic familiarity. Results show that suggestions are used most often at the beginning of search sessions. English suggestions tend to be preferred to the ones formulated in the users' native language, at all levels of English proficiency. Medico-scientific suggestions tend to be preferred to lay suggestions at higher levels of health literacy.