Data and systems for medication-related text classification and concept normalization from Twitter: Insights from the Social Media Mining for Health (SMM4H)-2017 shared task

Abeed Sarker, Maksim Belousov, Jasper Friedrichs, Kai Hakala, Svetlana Kiritchenko, Farrokh Mehryary, Sifei Han, Tung Tran, Anthony Rios, Ramakanth Kavuluru, Berry De Bruijn, Filip Ginter, Debanjan Mahata, Saif M. Mohammad, Goran Nenadic, Graciela Gonzalez-Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objective We executed the Social Media Mining for Health (SMM4H) 2017 shared tasks to enable the community-driven development and large-scale evaluation of automatic text processing methods for the classification and normalization of health-related text from social media. An additional objective was to publicly release manually annotated data. Materials and Methods We organized 3 independent subtasks: Automatic classification of self-reports of 1) adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and 2) medication consumption, from medication-mentioning tweets, and 3) normalization of ADR expressions. Training data consisted of 15 717 annotated tweets for (1), 10 260 for (2), and 6650 ADR phrases and identifiers for (3); and exhibited typical properties of social-media-based health-related texts. Systems were evaluated using 9961, 7513, and 2500 instances for the 3 subtasks, respectively. We evaluated performances of classes of methods and ensembles of system combinations following the shared tasks. Results Among 55 system runs, the best system scores for the 3 subtasks were 0.435 (ADR class F 1-score) for subtask-1, 0.693 (micro-Averaged F 1-score over two classes) for subtask-2, and 88.5% (accuracy) for subtask-3. Ensembles of system combinations obtained best scores of 0.476, 0.702, and 88.7%, outperforming individual systems. Discussion Among individual systems, support vector machines and convolutional neural networks showed high performance. Performance gains achieved by ensembles of system combinations suggest that such strategies may be suitable for operational systems relying on difficult text classification tasks (eg, subtask-1). Conclusions Data imbalance and lack of context remain challenges for natural language processing of social media text. Annotated data from the shared task have been made available as reference standards for future studies (

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1283
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AS and GG were partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine (NLM) grant number NIH NLM R01LM011176. KH, FM, and FG (TurkuNLP) are supported by ATT Tieto kayttöön grant. SH, TT, AR, and RK (UKNLP) are supported by the NIH National Cancer Institute through grant R21CA218231 and NVIDIA Corporation through the Titan X Pascal GPU donation. MB and GN are supported by the UK EPSRC (grants EP/I028099/1 and EP/N027280/1). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

Publisher Copyright:
© © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Medical Informatics Association.


  • machine learning
  • natural language processing
  • pharmacovigilance
  • social media
  • text mining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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