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Professional language in Swedish clinical text: Linguistic characterization and comparative studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 October 2014

Kelly Smith
Affiliation:
Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Postbox 7003, 164 07 Kista, Sweden. kellys@dsv.su.se
Beata Megyesi
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University, Postbox 635, S-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden. beata.megyesi@lingfil.uu.se
Sumithra Velupillai
Affiliation:
Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Postbox 7003, 164 07 Kista, Sweden. sumithra@dsv.su.se
Maria Kvist
Affiliation:
Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Postbox 7003, 164 07 Kista, Sweden & Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics (LIME), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. maria.kvist@karolinska.se
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Abstract

This study investigates the linguistic characteristics of Swedish clinical text in radiology reports and doctor's daily notes from electronic health records (EHRs) in comparison to general Swedish and biomedical journal text. We quantify linguistic features through a comparative register analysis to determine how the free text of EHRs differ from general and biomedical Swedish text in terms of lexical complexity, word and sentence composition, and common sentence structures. The linguistic features are extracted using state-of-the-art computational tools: a tokenizer, a part-of-speech tagger, and scripts for statistical analysis. Results show that technical terms and abbreviations are more frequent in clinical text, and lexical variance is low. Moreover, clinical text frequently omit subjects, verbs, and function words resulting in shorter sentences. Clinical text not only differs from general Swedish, but also internally, across its sub-domains, e.g. sentences lacking verbs are significantly more frequent in radiology reports. These results provide a foundation for future development of automatic methods for EHR simplification or clarification.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Nordic Association of Linguistics 2014 

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