Sentiment analysis of clinical narratives: A scoping review

Denecke, Kerstin; Reichenpfader, Daniel (2023). Sentiment analysis of clinical narratives: A scoping review Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 140, p. 104336. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jbi.2023.104336

1-s2.0-S1532046423000576-main.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (1MB) | Preview

A clinical sentiment is a judgment, thought or attitude promoted by an observation with respect to the health of an individual. Sentiment analysis has drawn attention in the healthcare domain for secondary use of data from clinical narratives, with a variety of applications including predicting the likelihood of emerging mental illnesses or clinical outcomes. The current state of research has not yet been summarized. This study presents results from a scoping review aiming at providing an overview of sentiment analysis of clinical narratives in order to summarize existing research and identify open research gaps. The scoping review was carried out in line with the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) guideline. Studies were identified by searching 4 electronic databases (e.g., PubMed, IEEE Xplore) in addition to conducting backward and forward reference list checking of the included studies. We extracted information on use cases, methods and tools applied, used datasets and performance of the sentiment analysis approach. Of 1,200 citations retrieved, 29 unique studies were included in the review covering a period of 8 years. Most studies apply general domain tools (e.g. TextBlob) and sentiment lexicons (e.g. SentiWordNet) for realizing use cases such as prediction of clinical outcomes; others proposed new domain-specific sentiment analysis approaches based on machine learning. Accuracy values between 71.5-88.2% are reported. Data used for evaluation and test are often retrieved from MIMIC databases or i2b2 challenges. Latest developments related to artificial neural networks are not yet fully considered in this domain. We conclude that future research should focus on developing a gold standard sentiment lexicon, adapted to the specific characteristics of clinical narratives. Efforts have to be made to either augment existing or create new high-quality labeled data sets of clinical narratives. Last, the suitability of state-of-the-art machine learning methods for natural language processing and in particular transformer-based models should be investigated for their application for sentiment analysis of clinical narratives.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Engineering and Computer Science > Institute for Patient-centered Digital Health
School of Engineering and Computer Science


Denecke, Kerstin0000-0001-6691-396X and
Reichenpfader, Daniel


T Technology > T Technology (General)








Kerstin Denecke

Date Deposited:

05 Apr 2023 11:51

Last Modified:

25 Oct 2023 13:44

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Sentiment analysis Clinical notes Scoping review NLP




Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Provide Feedback