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Open Access Research article

A study of health effects of long-distance ocean voyages on seamen using a data classification approach

Yunmei Lu1, Yanhong Gao2, Zhongbo Cao1, Juan Cui34, Zhennan Dong2, Yaping Tian2* and Ying Xu134*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Computer Science and Technology, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, 130012, China

2 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, 100853, China

3 Computational Systems Biology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA

4 Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2010, 10:13  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-13

Published: 10 March 2010



Long-distance ocean voyages may have substantial impacts on seamen's health, possibly causing malnutrition and other illness. Measures can possibly be taken to prevent such problems from happening through preparing special diet and making special precautions prior or during the sailing if a detailed understanding can be gained about what specific health effects such voyages may have on the seamen.


We present a computational study on 200 seamen using 41 chemistry indicators measured on their blood samples collected before and after the sailing. Our computational study is done using a data classification approach with a support vector machine-based classifier in conjunction with feature selections using a recursive feature elimination procedure.


Our analysis results suggest that among the 41 blood chemistry measures, nine are most likely to be affected during the sailing, which provide important clues about the specific effects of ocean voyage on seamen's health.


The identification of the nine blood chemistry measures provides important clues about the effects of long-distance voyage on seamen's health. These findings will prove to be useful to guide in improving the living and working environment, as well as food preparation on ships.