Ayah Zirikly


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Improving the Generalizability of Depression Detection by Leveraging Clinical Questionnaires
Thong Nguyen | Andrew Yates | Ayah Zirikly | Bart Desmet | Arman Cohan
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Automated methods have been widely used to identify and analyze mental health conditions (e.g., depression) from various sources of information, including social media. Yet, deployment of such models in real-world healthcare applications faces challenges including poor out-of-domain generalization and lack of trust in black box models. In this work, we propose approaches for depression detection that are constrained to different degrees by the presence of symptoms described in PHQ9, a questionnaire used by clinicians in the depression screening process. In dataset-transfer experiments on three social media datasets, we find that grounding the model in PHQ9’s symptoms substantially improves its ability to generalize to out-of-distribution data compared to a standard BERT-based approach. Furthermore, this approach can still perform competitively on in-domain data. These results and our qualitative analyses suggest that grounding model predictions in clinically-relevant symptoms can improve generalizability while producing a model that is easier to inspect.


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Development of Natural Language Processing Tools to Support Determination of Federal Disability Benefits in the U.S.
Bart Desmet | Julia Porcino | Ayah Zirikly | Denis Newman-Griffis | Guy Divita | Elizabeth Rasch
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Language Technologies for Government and Public Administration (LT4Gov)

The disability benefits programs administered by the US Social Security Administration (SSA) receive between 2 and 3 million new applications each year. Adjudicators manually review hundreds of evidence pages per case to determine eligibility based on financial, medical, and functional criteria. Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology is uniquely suited to support this adjudication work and is a critical component of an ongoing inter-agency collaboration between SSA and the National Institutes of Health. This NLP work provides resources and models for document ranking, named entity recognition, and terminology extraction in order to automatically identify documents and reports pertinent to a case, and to allow adjudicators to search for and locate desired information quickly. In this paper, we describe our vision for how NLP can impact SSA’s adjudication process, present the resources and models that have been developed, and discuss some of the benefits and challenges in working with large-scale government data, and its specific properties in the functional domain.


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CLPsych 2019 Shared Task: Predicting the Degree of Suicide Risk in Reddit Posts
Ayah Zirikly | Philip Resnik | Özlem Uzuner | Kristy Hollingshead
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

The shared task for the 2019 Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology (CLPsych’19) introduced an assessment of suicide risk based on social media postings, using data from Reddit to identify users at no, low, moderate, or severe risk. Two variations of the task focused on users whose posts to the r/SuicideWatch subreddit indicated they might be at risk; a third task looked at screening users based only on their more everyday (non-SuicideWatch) posts. We received submissions from 15 different teams, and the results provide progress and insight into the value of language signal in helping to predict risk level.

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Classifying the reported ability in clinical mobility descriptions
Denis Newman-Griffis | Ayah Zirikly | Guy Divita | Bart Desmet
Proceedings of the 18th BioNLP Workshop and Shared Task

Assessing how individuals perform different activities is key information for modeling health states of individuals and populations. Descriptions of activity performance in clinical free text are complex, including syntactic negation and similarities to textual entailment tasks. We explore a variety of methods for the novel task of classifying four types of assertions about activity performance: Able, Unable, Unclear, and None (no information). We find that ensembling an SVM trained with lexical features and a CNN achieves 77.9% macro F1 score on our task, and yields nearly 80% recall on the rare Unclear and Unable samples. Finally, we highlight several challenges in classifying performance assertions, including capturing information about sources of assistance, incorporating syntactic structure and negation scope, and handling new modalities at test time. Our findings establish a strong baseline for this novel task, and identify intriguing areas for further research.


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Expert, Crowdsourced, and Machine Assessment of Suicide Risk via Online Postings
Han-Chin Shing | Suraj Nair | Ayah Zirikly | Meir Friedenberg | Hal Daumé III | Philip Resnik
Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology: From Keyboard to Clinic

We report on the creation of a dataset for studying assessment of suicide risk via online postings in Reddit. Evaluation of risk-level annotations by experts yields what is, to our knowledge, the first demonstration of reliability in risk assessment by clinicians based on social media postings. We also introduce and demonstrate the value of a new, detailed rubric for assessing suicide risk, compare crowdsourced with expert performance, and present baseline predictive modeling experiments using the new dataset, which will be made available to researchers through the American Association of Suicidology.

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RSDD-Time: Temporal Annotation of Self-Reported Mental Health Diagnoses
Sean MacAvaney | Bart Desmet | Arman Cohan | Luca Soldaini | Andrew Yates | Ayah Zirikly | Nazli Goharian
Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology: From Keyboard to Clinic

Self-reported diagnosis statements have been widely employed in studying language related to mental health in social media. However, existing research has largely ignored the temporality of mental health diagnoses. In this work, we introduce RSDD-Time: a new dataset of 598 manually annotated self-reported depression diagnosis posts from Reddit that include temporal information about the diagnosis. Annotations include whether a mental health condition is present and how recently the diagnosis happened. Furthermore, we include exact temporal spans that relate to the date of diagnosis. This information is valuable for various computational methods to examine mental health through social media because one’s mental health state is not static. We also test several baseline classification and extraction approaches, which suggest that extracting temporal information from self-reported diagnosis statements is challenging.

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Embedding Transfer for Low-Resource Medical Named Entity Recognition: A Case Study on Patient Mobility
Denis Newman-Griffis | Ayah Zirikly
Proceedings of the BioNLP 2018 workshop

Functioning is gaining recognition as an important indicator of global health, but remains under-studied in medical natural language processing research. We present the first analysis of automatically extracting descriptions of patient mobility, using a recently-developed dataset of free text electronic health records. We frame the task as a named entity recognition (NER) problem, and investigate the applicability of NER techniques to mobility extraction. As text corpora focused on patient functioning are scarce, we explore domain adaptation of word embeddings for use in a recurrent neural network NER system. We find that embeddings trained on a small in-domain corpus perform nearly as well as those learned from large out-of-domain corpora, and that domain adaptation techniques yield additional improvements in both precision and recall. Our analysis identifies several significant challenges in extracting descriptions of patient mobility, including the length and complexity of annotated entities and high linguistic variability in mobility descriptions.


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The GW/UMD CLPsych 2016 Shared Task System
Ayah Zirikly | Varun Kumar | Philip Resnik
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

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The GW/LT3 VarDial 2016 Shared Task System for Dialects and Similar Languages Detection
Ayah Zirikly | Bart Desmet | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on NLP for Similar Languages, Varieties and Dialects (VarDial3)

This paper describes the GW/LT3 contribution to the 2016 VarDial shared task on the identification of similar languages (task 1) and Arabic dialects (task 2). For both tasks, we experimented with Logistic Regression and Neural Network classifiers in isolation. Additionally, we implemented a cascaded classifier that consists of coarse and fine-grained classifiers (task 1) and a classifier ensemble with majority voting for task 2. The submitted systems obtained state-of-the art performance and ranked first for the evaluation on social media data (test sets B1 and B2 for task 1), with a maximum weighted F1 score of 91.94%.

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The Power of Language Music: Arabic Lemmatization through Patterns
Mohammed Attia | Ayah Zirikly | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Cognitive Aspects of the Lexicon (CogALex - V)

The interaction between roots and patterns in Arabic has intrigued lexicographers and morphologists for centuries. While roots provide the consonantal building blocks, patterns provide the syllabic vocalic moulds. While roots provide abstract semantic classes, patterns realize these classes in specific instances. In this way both roots and patterns are indispensable for understanding the derivational, morphological and, to some extent, the cognitive aspects of the Arabic language. In this paper we perform lemmatization (a high-level lexical processing) without relying on a lookup dictionary. We use a hybrid approach that consists of a machine learning classifier to predict the lemma pattern for a given stem, and mapping rules to convert stems to their respective lemmas with the vocalization defined by the pattern.


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Cross-lingual Transfer of Named Entity Recognizers without Parallel Corpora
Ayah Zirikly | Masato Hagiwara
Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 7th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

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Named Entity Recognition for Arabic Social Media
Ayah Zirikly | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Vector Space Modeling for Natural Language Processing


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Named Entity Recognition System for Dialectal Arabic
Ayah Zirikly | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the EMNLP 2014 Workshop on Arabic Natural Language Processing (ANLP)