Identifying Patient Smoking Status from Medical Discharge Records

Özlem Uzuner*, Ira Goldstein, Yuan Luo, Isaac Kohane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


The authors organized a Natural Language Processing (NLP) challenge on automatically determining the smoking status of patients from information found in their discharge records. This challenge was issued as a part of the i2b2 (Informatics for Integrating Biology to the Bedside) project, to survey, facilitate, and examine studies in medical language understanding for clinical narratives. This article describes the smoking challenge, details the data and the annotation process, explains the evaluation metrics, discusses the characteristics of the systems developed for the challenge, presents an analysis of the results of received system runs, draws conclusions about the state of the art, and identifies directions for future research. A total of 11 teams participated in the smoking challenge. Each team submitted up to three system runs, providing a total of 23 submissions. The submitted system runs were evaluated with microaveraged and macroaveraged precision, recall, and F-measure. The systems submitted to the smoking challenge represented a variety of machine learning and rule-based algorithms. Despite the differences in their approaches to smoking status identification, many of these systems provided good results. There were 12 system runs with microaveraged F-measures above 0.84. Analysis of the results highlighted the fact that discharge summaries express smoking status using a limited number of textual features (e.g., "smok", "tobac", "cigar", Social History, etc.). Many of the effective smoking status identifiers benefit from these features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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