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Medical terminologies

Medical terminologies: MeSH®
name The Medical Subject Headings classification
summary Controlled vocabulary, thesaurus.

Used to index, catalogue and retrieve the world's medical literature most notably by PubMed, the NLM's interface to the MEDLINE database.
clinical focus "MeSH covers the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, the pre-clinical sciences..."
developed by The US National Library of Medicine (NLM)
introduced 1966. PubMed was introduced as a free service in 1997.
current version 2005. Under continued development - updated annually.
background / derivation An integrated part of the UMLS research effort, focused on information retrieval from bibliographic databases.
  • MeSH is used on MEDLINE to index bibliographic citations and author abstracts from over 4,000 journals published in the United States and in 70 foreign countries (though mainly to English language papers). MEDLINE provides citations and, where available, astracts and links to full-text articles
  • PubMed is a Web-based retrieval system developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine. It is part of NCBI's retrieval system called Entrez. MeSH vocabulary is used for indexing journal articles for Index Medicus® and MEDLINE and is also used for cataloging books
  • MeSH terms are arranged in a hierarchy of "MeSH Tree Structures". When PubMed searches a MeSH term, it will automatically include narrower terms in the search, if applicable. This is also called "automatic explosion." NLM indexers examine articles and assign the most specific MeSH heading(s) that appropriately describes the concept(s) discussed. As many as 15 headings may be assigned Automatic Term Mapping feature to search for unqualified terms. When you click Go, PubMed will look for a match in up to four lists. It looks first for a match in the MeSH Translation Table. If it doesn't find a match, it looks in the Journals Translation Table, then in the Phrase List, and finally in the Author Index.
  • standards  
    in use PubMed

    Worldwide/international. Translations exist in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Russian, Polish, Romanian, Greek, Dutch, Slovak, Slovene, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese ...
    access  bullet  MeSH - Files Available to Download
    tools  bullet  MeSH Browser (2005)  bullet  PubMed  bullet  HONselect ("multilingual and intelligent search tool" - includes MeSH search and browsing) (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese)  bullet  Understanding MeSH (McGill University, Health Sciences Library)

    Pritchard SJ, Weightman AL. medline in the UK: pioneering the past, present and future. Health Info Libr J. 2005 Sep;22 Suppl 1:38-44.

    [PubMed]   []

    " This article provides a brief history of the development of the medline database and its huge impact within the UK, from its inception to the present time. The origins of medline can be traced back to a collection of books in the US Surgeon General's Office during the American Civil War and John Shaw Billings' decision, during 1867, to make this Library as complete as possible. From these beginnings, Index Medicus was developed in the early years of the 20th century, and electronic versions of the database began with the computerized on-demand search service MEDLARS in 1964 and then via CD-ROM and Internet Grateful Med to the web-based and free-to-all service, PubMed, in 1997. The response to PubMed was immediate and startling with usage increasing from 7 million searches per annum in 1996 to 400 million searches per annum in 2001 and the service continues to improve. medline providers are now offering mapping of natural language queries to the sophisticated indexing vocabulary (Medical Subject Headings, MeSH) and the provision of specific filters for different types of publication to improve searching efficiency, as well as links to full-text versions of the papers where available. The next steps are likely to involve an increased blurring of database and full-text boundaries, incorporating seamless access to the best available evidence within medline and a wide range of other information resources within a single search and to an increasing amount of full-text via various open-archive initiatives. As ever, the US National Library of Medicine is in the vanguard of research and further applications of its medline database for users within the UK will be awaited with great interest. "

    Lindberg DA, Humphreys BL. 2015--the future of medical libraries. N Engl J Med. 2005 Mar 17;352(11):1067-70.

    [PubMed]   []

    " The past 20 years have witnessed computer and communications revolutions, rapid progress in genetics research, increasing public interest in personal health decisions, and corresponding expansions in the services provided by the National Library of Medicine. These concomitant and linked developments have upset the information marketplace and inspired policy debates about telecommunications, intellectual property, and access to the results of government-funded research. The Internet and the World Wide Web have transformed the way libraries deliver information services and have created perceived alternatives to libraries. What will happen to medical libraries in the post-Google world? ... "


    National Library of Medicine
    8600 Rockville Pike
    Bethesda, MD 20894

     bullet  Contact NLM

    links  bullet  MeSH  bullet  MeSH training course (WHO)
    page history
    Entry on OpenClinical: 09 August 2005
    Last main update: 29 August 2005

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