Medical Question Summarization with Entity-driven Contrastive Learning

15 Apr 2023  ·  Sibo Wei, Wenpeng Lu, Xueping Peng, Shoujin Wang, Yi-Fei Wang, Weiyu Zhang ·

By summarizing longer consumer health questions into shorter and essential ones, medical question answering (MQA) systems can more accurately understand consumer intentions and retrieve suitable answers. However, medical question summarization is very challenging due to obvious distinctions in health trouble descriptions from patients and doctors. Although existing works have attempted to utilize Seq2Seq, reinforcement learning, or contrastive learning to solve the problem, two challenges remain: how to correctly capture question focus to model its semantic intention, and how to obtain reliable datasets to fairly evaluate performance. To address these challenges, this paper proposes a novel medical question summarization framework using entity-driven contrastive learning (ECL). ECL employs medical entities in frequently asked questions (FAQs) as focuses and devises an effective mechanism to generate hard negative samples. This approach forces models to pay attention to the crucial focus information and generate more ideal question summarization. Additionally, we find that some MQA datasets suffer from serious data leakage problems, such as the iCliniq dataset's 33% duplicate rate. To evaluate the related methods fairly, this paper carefully checks leaked samples to reorganize more reasonable datasets. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our ECL method outperforms state-of-the-art methods by accurately capturing question focus and generating medical question summaries. The code and datasets are available at

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