• Information Extraction Framework for Disability Determination Using a Mental Functioning Use-Case.

      Zirikly, Ayah; Desmet, Bart; Newman-Griffis, Denis; Marfeo, Elizabeth E; McDonough, Christine; Goldman, Howard; Chan, Leighton (JMIR Publications, 2022-03-18)
      Natural language processing (NLP) in health care enables transformation of complex narrative information into high value products such as clinical decision support and adverse event monitoring in real time via the electronic health record (EHR). However, information technologies for mental health have consistently lagged because of the complexity of measuring and modeling mental health and illness. The use of NLP to support management of mental health conditions is a viable topic that has not been explored in depth. This paper provides a framework for the advanced application of NLP methods to identify, extract, and organize information on mental health and functioning to inform the decision-making process applied to assessing mental health. We present a use-case related to work disability, guided by the disability determination process of the US Social Security Administration (SSA). From this perspective, the following questions must be addressed about each problem that leads to a disability benefits claim: When did the problem occur and how long has it existed? How severe is it? Does it affect the person's ability to work? and What is the source of the evidence about the problem? Our framework includes 4 dimensions of medical information that are central to assessing disability-temporal sequence and duration, severity, context, and information source. We describe key aspects of each dimension and promising approaches for application in mental functioning. For example, to address temporality, a complete functional timeline must be created with all relevant aspects of functioning such as intermittence, persistence, and recurrence. Severity of mental health symptoms can be successfully identified and extracted on a 4-level ordinal scale from absent to severe. Some NLP work has been reported on the extraction of context for specific cases of wheelchair use in clinical settings. We discuss the links between the task of information source assessment and work on source attribution, coreference resolution, event extraction, and rule-based methods. Gaps were identified in NLP applications that directly applied to the framework and in existing relevant annotated data sets. We highlighted NLP methods with the potential for advanced application in the field of mental functioning. Findings of this work will inform the development of instruments for supporting SSA adjudicators in their disability determination process. The 4 dimensions of medical information may have relevance for a broad array of individuals and organizations responsible for assessing mental health function and ability. Further, our framework with 4 specific dimensions presents significant opportunity for the application of NLP in the realm of mental health and functioning beyond the SSA setting, and it may support the development of robust tools and methods for decision-making related to clinical care, program implementation, and other outcomes.
    • A New Clinically Applicable Measure of Functional Status in Patients With Heart Failure: The 60-Foot Walk Test

      Harris, K.M.; Krantz, D.S.; Kop, W.J. (Elsevier Inc., 2017)
      Objectives This study reports the development and predictive value of the 60-foot walk test (60ftWT), a brief functional status measure for patients with heart failure (HF). The goal was to develop a test suitable for clinical settings and appropriate for patients with walking impairments. Background The 6-min walk test (6MWT) has considerable predictive value, but requires a long walking course and has limited utility in patients with mobility-related comorbidities. A shorter, more clinically practical test is therefore needed. Methods A total of 144 patients (age 57.4 ± 11.4 years; 111 males) with symptomatic HF received baseline assessments using the 60ftWT, 6MWT, and self-reported symptom and health status. Patients were tested 3 months later to determine stability of assessments. HF hospitalizations or death from any cause were recorded for 3.5 years following baseline. Results Median 60ftWT completion time was 26 s (interquartile range: 22 to 31 s). Longer 60ftWT time was associated with shorter 6MWT distance (r = −0.75; p < 0.001), and with higher symptom severity at baseline (r = −0.40; p < 0.001). Longer 60ftWT times also predicted increases in 6MWT and symptoms from baseline to 3 months (p < 0.01). Both WTs predicted long-term clinical outcomes, with patients taking longer than 31 s to complete the 60ftWT at greatest risk for HF hospitalization or death (hazard ratio: 2.13; 95% confidence interval: 1.18 to 3.84; p = 0.01). Conclusions The 60ftWT is an easily administered functional status measure that predicts adverse events, symptoms, and health status. It has the potential for considerable clinical utility to help identify patients at risk for future events and to calibrate treatments designed to improve functional status and quality of life. Copyright 2017
    • Pet Ownership Patterns and Successful Aging Outcomes in Community Dwelling Older Adults

      Friedmann, E.; Gee, N.R.; Simonsick, E.M.; Studenski, S.; Resnick, B.; Barr, E.; Kitner-Triolo, M.; Hackney, A. (Frontiers Media S.A., 2020)
      Introduction: Diminishing cognitive and physical functions, worsening psychological symptoms, and increased mortality risk and morbidity typically accompany aging. The aging population's health needs will continue to increase as the proportion of the population aged > 50 years increases. Pet ownership (PO) has been linked to better health outcomes in older adults, particularly those with chronic conditions. Much of the evidence is weak. Little is known about PO patterns as people age or the contribution of PO to successful aging in community-dwelling older adults. This study examines PO patterns among healthy community-dwelling older adults and the relationship of PO to cognitive and physical functions and psychological status. Methods: Participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (> 50 years old, N = 378) completed a battery of cognitive, physical function, and psychological tests, as well as a PO questionnaire. Descriptive and non-parametric or general/generalized linear model analyses were conducted for separate outcomes. Results: Most participants (82%) had kept pets and 24% have pets: 14% dogs, 12% cats, 3% other pets. The most frequent reasons for having pets included enjoyment (80%) and companionship (66%). Most owners had kept the pet they had the longest for over 10 years (70%). PO was lower in older decades (p < 0.001). Pet owners were more likely to live in single-family homes and reside with others (p = 0.001) than non-owners. Controlling for age, PO was associated independently with better cognitive function (verbal leaning/memory p = 0.041), dog ownership predicted better physical function (daily energy expenditure, p = 0.018), and cat ownership predicted better cognitive functioning (verbal learning/memory, p = 0.035). Many older adults who did not own pets (37%) had regular contact with pets, which was also related to health outcomes. Conclusion: PO is lower at older ages, which mirrors the general pattern of poorer cognitive and physical function, and psychological status at older ages. PO and regular contact with pets (including PO) are associated with better cognitive status compared with those who did not own pets or had no regular contact with pets independent of age. Dog ownership was related to better physical function. Longitudinal analysis is required to evaluate the association of PO and/or regular contact with maintenance of health status over time. Copyright 2020 The Authors.