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Improving information retrieval with multiple health terminologies in a quality-controlled gateway

Lina F Soualmia*, Saoussen Sakji, Catherine Letord, Laetitia Rollin, Philippe Massari and Stéfan J Darmoni

Author Affiliations

LITIS-TIBS EA 4108 & CISMeF Rouen University Hospital, Rouen, France

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Health Information Science and Systems 2013, 1:8  doi:10.1186/2047-2501-1-8

Published: 4 February 2013



The Catalog and Index of French-language Health Internet resources (CISMeF) is a quality-controlled health gateway, primarily for Web resources in French (n=89,751). Recently, we achieved a major improvement in the structure of the catalogue by setting-up multiple terminologies, based on twelve health terminologies available in French, to overcome the potential weakness of the MeSH thesaurus, which is the main and pivotal terminology we use for indexing and retrieval since 1995. The main aim of this study was to estimate the added-value of exploiting several terminologies and their semantic relationships to improve Web resource indexing and retrieval in CISMeF, in order to provide additional health resources which meet the users’ expectations.


Twelve terminologies were integrated into the CISMeF information system to set up multiple-terminologies indexing and retrieval. The same sets of thirty queries were run: (i) by exploiting the hierarchical structure of the MeSH, and (ii) by exploiting the additional twelve terminologies and their semantic links. The two search modes were evaluated and compared.


The overall coverage of the multiple-terminologies search mode was improved by comparison to the coverage of using the MeSH (16,283 vs. 14,159) (+15%). These additional findings were estimated at 56.6% relevant results, 24.7% intermediate results and 18.7% irrelevant.


The multiple-terminologies approach improved information retrieval. These results suggest that integrating additional health terminologies was able to improve recall. Since performing the study, 21 other terminologies have been added which should enable us to make broader studies in multiple-terminologies information retrieval.

Abstracting and indexing; Cataloguing; Information storage and retrieval; Internet; Terminology as topic; Vocabulary; Controlled