Keselmen et al., Consumer Health Concepts That Do Not Map
Consumer Health Concepts That Do Not Map to the UMLS:
Where Do They Fit?
ALLA KESELMAN, PHD, MA, CATHERINE ARNOTT SMITH, PHD, GUY DIVITA, MS, HYEONEUI KIM, PHD,
ALLEN C. BROWNE, MA, GONDY LEROY, PHD, QING ZENG-TREITLER, PHD
A b s t r a c t Objective: This study has two objectives: first, to identify and characterize consumer health
terms not found in the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus (2007 AB); second, to describe
the procedure for creating new concepts in the process of building a consumer health vocabulary. How do the
unmapped consumer health concepts relate to the existing UMLS concepts? What is the place of these new
concepts in professional medical discourse?
Design: The consumer health terms were extracted from two large corpora derived in the process of Open Access
Collaboratory Consumer Health Vocabulary (OAC CHV) building. Terms that could not be mapped to existing UMLS
concepts via machine and manual methods prompted creation of new concepts, which were then ascribed
semantic types, related to existing UMLS concepts, and coded according to specified criteria.
Results: This approach identified 64 unmapped concepts, 17 of which were labeled as uniquely “lay” and not
feasible for inclusion in professional health terminologies. The remaining terms constituted potential candidates
for inclusion in professional vocabularies, or could be constructed by post-coordinating existing UMLS terms. The
relationship between new and existing concepts differed depending on the corpora from which they were
Conclusion: Non-mapping concepts constitute a small proportion of consumer health terms, but a proportion that
is likely to affect the process of consumer health vocabulary building. We have identified a novel approach for
identifying such concepts.
J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2008;15:496–505. DOI 10.1197/jamia.M2599.
Researchers increasingly speak to the need to reduce the
discrepancy between the l