DeCS 2018 is available online

The updated version of the Health Sciences Descriptors (DeCS) was made available for consultation in April. The revision is held in consonance with the yearly revision of the US National Library of Medicine’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and involves the insertion of new descriptors and the removal, modification and/or hierarchical repositioning of current descriptors. The main novelty for this version is the inclusion of terms related to PAHO’s crosscutting themes for sustainable development, which include Human Rights, Equity, Ethnicity and Gender.

BIREME has been working in association with experts on each theme in order to indentify, collect and structure the vocabulary of the terminology employed in current scientific literature on the subjects. As a result of this project, DeCS 2018 added three descriptors linked to the theme Gender, four to Equity, 19 to Human Rights and 39 to Ethnicity.

The Figure below shows the distribution of 486 new descriptors of DeCS 2018, arranged by category. Through the inclusion of the concepts of PAHO’s crosscutting issues, the Public Health category, an exclusive DeCS category, is for the first time one of the top ten categories that most received new descriptors.

decs_enTo find out more details about the new DeCS version, we recommend the DeCS 2018 edition website.

About DeCS

The structured and trilingual DeCS vocabulary was created by BIREME in order to serve as a unified language for the indexation of articles from scientific journals, books, congress annals, technical reports and other documents, as well as for use in searching and retrieving subjects of scientific literature in information sources available in the Virtual Health Library (VHL), such as LILACS, and MEDLINE, among others.

DeCS was developed based on the MeSH – Medical Subject Headings of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), with the objective of allowing the use of common terminology in searches launched in the languages of the Region, thus providing a consistent and centralized means of retrieving information regardless of language differences.

BIREME is responsible for the Portuguese translation of descriptors, their synonyms, their reach notes and indexation, as well as for the revision of the Spanish translation, elaborated in cooperation with the Facultad de Medicina de la Universidad de Chile – for regional Spanish and the Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencias de la Salud of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III – for Spanish from Spain. BIREME also implements the hierarchical modifications implanted by the MeSH, as well as adjustments in terminology exclusive to DeCS. These activities are carried out throughout the year and constitute the yearly update of DeCS.

DeCS integrates the LILACS methodology, the VHL, and participates in the development of a unified terminology and semantic network in health, the UMLS – Unified Medical Language System of the NLM, holding the responsibility of updating the terms in Portuguese and Spanish.

Besides the MeSH original medical terms, BIREME developed the specific areas of Public Health, Homeopathy, Science and Health and Sanitary Surveillance.

The concepts that make up the DeCS are organized in a hierarchic structure, allowing for searches in broader or more specific terms, as well as all the terms belonging to a same hierarchical structure.

Links of interest

Virtual Health Library

Health Sciences Descriptors

Medical Subject Headings

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