Accessing medical literature is difficult for laypeople as the content is written for specialists and contains medical jargon. Automated text simplification methods offer a potential means to address this issue. In this work, we propose a summarize-then-simplify two-stage strategy, which we call NapSS, identifying the relevant content to simplify while ensuring that the original narrative flow is preserved. In this approach, we first generate reference summaries via sentence matching between the original and the simplified abstracts. These summaries are then used to train an extractive summarizer, learning the most relevant content to be simplified. Then, to ensure the narrative consistency of the simplified text, we synthesize auxiliary narrative prompts combining key phrases derived from the syntactical analyses of the original text. Our model achieves results significantly better than the seq2seq baseline on an English medical corpus, yielding 3% 4% absolute improvements in terms of lexical similarity, and providing a further 1.1% improvement of SARI score when combined with the baseline. We also highlight shortcomings of existing evaluation methods, and introduce new metrics that take into account both lexical and high-level semantic similarity. A human evaluation conducted on a random sample of the test set further establishes the effectiveness of the proposed approach. Codes and models are released here: https://github.com/LuJunru/NapSS.
The primary goal of drug safety researchers and regulators is to promptly identify adverse drug reactions. Doing so may in turn prevent or reduce the harm to patients and ultimately improve public health. Evaluating and monitoring drug safety (i.e., pharmacovigilance) involves analyzing an ever growing collection of spontaneous reports from health professionals, physicians, and pharmacists, and information voluntarily submitted by patients. In this scenario, facilitating analysis of such reports via automation has the potential to rapidly identify safety signals. Unfortunately, public resources for developing natural language models for this task are scant. We present PHEE, a novel dataset for pharmacovigilance comprising over 5000 annotated events from medical case reports and biomedical literature, making it the largest such public dataset to date. We describe the hierarchical event schema designed to provide coarse and fine-grained information about patients’ demographics, treatments and (side) effects. Along with the discussion of the dataset, we present a thorough experimental evaluation of current state-of-the-art approaches for biomedical event extraction, point out their limitations, and highlight open challenges to foster future research in this area.
While state-of-the-art NLP models have been achieving the excellent performance of a wide range of tasks in recent years, important questions are being raised about their robustness and their underlying sensitivity to systematic biases that may exist in their training and test data. Such issues come to be manifest in performance problems when faced with out-of-distribution data in the field. One recent solution has been to use counterfactually augmented datasets in order to reduce any reliance on spurious patterns that may exist in the original data. Producing high-quality augmented data can be costly and time-consuming as it usually needs to involve human feedback and crowdsourcing efforts. In this work, we propose an alternative by describing and evaluating an approach to automatically generating counterfactual data for the purpose of data augmentation and explanation. A comprehensive evaluation on several different datasets and using a variety of state-of-the-art benchmarks demonstrate how our approach can achieve significant improvements in model performance when compared to models training on the original data and even when compared to models trained with the benefit of human-generated augmented data.