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Potential and Limitations of ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0 as a Source of COVID-19 Information: Comprehensive Comparative Analysis of Generative and Authoritative Information

J Med Internet Res. 2023 Dec 14;25:e49771. doi: 10.2196/49771.


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has necessitated reliable and authoritative information for public guidance. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been a primary source of such information, disseminating it through a question and answer format on its official website. Concurrently, ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0, a deep learning-based natural language generation system, has shown potential in generating diverse text types based on user input.

OBJECTIVE: This study evaluates the accuracy of COVID-19 information generated by ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0, assessing its potential as a supplementary public information source during the pandemic.

METHODS: We extracted 487 COVID-19-related questions from the WHO’s official website and used ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0 to generate corresponding answers. These generated answers were then compared against the official WHO responses for evaluation. Two clinical experts scored the generated answers on a scale of 0-5 across 4 dimensions-accuracy, comprehensiveness, relevance, and clarity-with higher scores indicating better performance in each dimension. The WHO responses served as the reference for this assessment. Additionally, we used the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) model to generate similarity scores (0-1) between the generated and official answers, providing a dual validation mechanism.

RESULTS: The mean (SD) scores for ChatGPT 3.5-generated answers were 3.47 (0.725) for accuracy, 3.89 (0.719) for comprehensiveness, 4.09 (0.787) for relevance, and 3.49 (0.809) for clarity. For ChatGPT 4.0, the mean (SD) scores were 4.15 (0.780), 4.47 (0.641), 4.56 (0.600), and 4.09 (0.698), respectively. All differences were statistically significant (P<.001), with ChatGPT 4.0 outperforming ChatGPT 3.5. The BERT model verification showed mean (SD) similarity scores of 0.83 (0.07) for ChatGPT 3.5 and 0.85 (0.07) for ChatGPT 4.0 compared with the official WHO answers.

CONCLUSIONS: ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0 can generate accurate and relevant COVID-19 information to a certain extent. However, compared with official WHO responses, gaps and deficiencies exist. Thus, users of ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0 should also reference other reliable information sources to mitigate potential misinformation risks. Notably, ChatGPT 4.0 outperformed ChatGPT 3.5 across all evaluated dimensions, a finding corroborated by BERT model validation.

PMID:38096014 | DOI:10.2196/49771

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