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In JMIR medical informatics ; h5-index 23.0

BACKGROUND : Eligibility criteria are the main strategy for screening appropriate participants for clinical trials. Automatic analysis of clinical trial eligibility criteria by digital screening, leveraging natural language processing techniques, can improve recruitment efficiency and reduce the costs involved in promoting clinical research.

OBJECTIVE : We aimed to create a natural language processing model to automatically classify clinical trial eligibility criteria.

METHODS : We proposed a classifier for short text eligibility criteria based on ensemble learning, where a set of pretrained models was integrated. The pretrained models included state-of-the-art deep learning methods for training and classification, including Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), XLNet, and A Robustly Optimized BERT Pretraining Approach (RoBERTa). The classification results by the integrated models were combined as new features for training a Light Gradient Boosting Machine (LightGBM) model for eligibility criteria classification.

RESULTS : Our proposed method obtained an accuracy of 0.846, a precision of 0.803, and a recall of 0.817 on a standard data set from a shared task of an international conference. The macro F1 value was 0.807, outperforming the state-of-the-art baseline methods on the shared task.

CONCLUSIONS : We designed a model for screening short text classification criteria for clinical trials based on multimodel ensemble learning. Through experiments, we concluded that performance was improved significantly with a model ensemble compared to a single model. The introduction of focal loss could reduce the impact of class imbalance to achieve better performance.

Zeng Kun, Pan Zhiwei, Xu Yibin, Qu Yingying


Clinical trial, Deep learning, Eligibility criteria, Ensemble learning, Text classification