Sievert, Patrick, and Reid, 2001 – “Need a Bloody Nose be a Nosebleed?…”
In doing research for a particular piece of medical information, not everyone is going to use the same name or wording of the term. Variants in terminology and search terms have created an entirely new area of study. Should these variants, when typed, all lead to the same search result? MEDLINE has an entire network devoted to making sure one can search without problems and find the answers they need even without knowing the official Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). This article uses the example of “heart attack”, which now leads to “myocardial infarction”—a term that most people will not know to use.
However, in some cases, something as simple as searching for “nose bleed” or “bloody nose” in MEDLINE leads to complicated and off the wall responses that have nothing to do with bloody noses. The search yielded one result dealing with “bloody nose syndrome”, and the other 19 results had nothing to do with it. The technology separates the words, searching individually for “nose” and “bleed”, which causes a rift in the search to begin with. Searches like these prove that MEDLINE was not intended for a layman to gather medical information. It was built with the intention of medical professionals who regularly use MeSH to be able to navigate the database and find the information they need. The problem then is, how can this be made more useful for other researchers?
According to the article, “Gathering all consumer terms may be an impossible goal, but studying ways to add additional lexical variants, at the very least British equivalent spellings, could significantly improve retrieval for consumers” (70).