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BE 1251: Understanding Medical Terminology

A starting guide for BE 1251

Understanding MeSH

    

Many libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System or Dewey to organize and find information, however, if the topic is of a medical nature, you will want to use MeSH headings and terminology. "MeSH is the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus" - U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is a vocabulary that gives "uniformity and consistency" and is updated annually. 

Many databases use MeSH subject headings. Instead of using the term, "Senior Citizen," the proper MeSH term is: "Aged". The scope note can give you more details if you are unsure if you are using the term correctly. In this case, "Aged" is: "A person 65 through 79 years of age. For a person older than 79 years, AGED, 80 AND OVER is available."

Databases that use MeSH terms include (but are not limited to):

  • PubMed
  • CINAHL Complete
  • Medline
  • ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source

Keyword Searching and MeSH Terms

Keyword searching is the, "key" for successful searching. Synonyms can make or break your searching experience and without the exact term, you may struggle finding the resources you need. This is why it is so important to search using different synonyms. If you type in one term and you don't find what you are looking for, try searching for it under a different term.  

If the topic is of a medical nature, you will want to use MeSH headings. "MeSH is the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus" - U.S. National Library of Medicine. Many databases use MeSH subject headings. Instead of using the term, "Senior Citizen," the proper MeSH term is: "Aged". The scope note can give you more details if you are unsure if you are using the term correctly. In this case, "Aged" is: "A person 65 through 79 years of age. For a person older than 79 years, AGED, 80 AND OVER is available."

Databases that use MeSH terms include (but are not limited to):

  • PubMed
  • CINAHL Complete
  • Medline
  • ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source
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