Evaluation of preprocessing techniques for chief complaint classification.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To determine whether preprocessing chief complaints before automatically classifying them into syndromic categories improves classification performance.


We preprocessed chief complaints using two preprocessors (CCP and EMT-P) and evaluated whether classification performance increased for a probabilistic classifier (CoCo) or for a keyword-based classifier (modification of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene chief complaint coder (KC)).


CCP exhibited high accuracy (85%) in preprocessing chief complaints but only slightly improved CoCo's classification performance for a few syndromes. EMT-P, which splits chief complaints into multiple problems, substantially increased CoCo's sensitivity for all syndromes. Preprocessing with CCP or EMT-P only improved KC's sensitivity for the Constitutional syndrome.


Evaluation of preprocessing systems should not be limited to accuracy of the preprocessor but should include the effect of preprocessing on syndromic classification. Splitting chief complaints into multiple problems before classification is important for CoCo, but other preprocessing steps only slightly improved classification performance for CoCo and a keyword-based classifier.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dara, J; Dowling, JN; Travers, D; Cooper, GF; Chapman, WW

Published Date

  • August 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 613 - 623

PubMed ID

  • 18166502

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-0480

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1532-0464

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jbi.2007.11.004


  • eng