Automated detection of substance-use status and related information from clinical text

Raid Alzubi, Hadeel Alzoubi*, Stamos Katsigiannis, Daune West, Naeem Ramzan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Downloads (Pure)


This study aims to develop and evaluate an automated system for extracting information related to patient substance use (smoking, alcohol, and drugs) from unstructured clinical text (medical discharge records). The authors propose a four-stage system for the extraction of the substance-use status and related attributes (type, frequency, amount, quit-time, and period). The first stage uses a keyword search technique to detect sentences related to substance use and to exclude unrelated records. In the second stage, an extension of the NegEx negation detection algorithm is developed and employed for detecting the negated records. The third stage involves identifying the temporal status of the substance use by applying windowing and chunking methodologies. Finally, in the fourth stage, regular expressions, syntactic patterns, and keyword search techniques are used in order to extract the substance-use attributes. The proposed system achieves an F1-score of up to 0.99 for identifying substance-use-related records, 0.98 for detecting the negation status, and 0.94 for identifying temporal status. Moreover, F1-scores of up to 0.98, 0.98, 1.00, 0.92, and 0.98 are achieved for the extraction of the amount, frequency, type, quit-time, and period attributes, respectively. Natural Language Processing (NLP) and rule-based techniques are employed efficiently for extracting substance-use status and attributes, with the proposed system being able to detect substance-use status and attributes over both sentence-level and document-level data. Results show that the proposed system outperforms the compared state-of-the-art substance-use identification system on an unseen dataset, demonstrating its generalisability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9609
Number of pages21
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022


  • electronic health records
  • information extraction
  • machine learning
  • natural language processing
  • rule-based systems
  • substance use


Dive into the research topics of 'Automated detection of substance-use status and related information from clinical text'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this