BIREME Bulletin n° 47

DeCS 2020 is available online

The most recent version of the Health Sciences Descriptors/Medical Subject Headings (DeCS/MeSH) was made available for consultation in June this year. The main novelties are the revision of the hierarchical branch of MeSH concepts related to infections (now better combined in the subcategory C01 of category C of Diseases) and the beginning of the review of the hierarchical structure of the exclusive categories of DeCS.

The compatibility of several homeopathic medicines (of the HP category), whose names were identical to those of the organisms (of category B) or of the chemical substances (of category D) from which the active ingredients are extracted, which also allows them to be included in these MeSH branches. And when in MeSH there was only one descriptor for the genera of organisms, the DeCS homeopathic descriptors for their species became specific and not preferred concepts within these MeSH descriptors, making these relationships explicit.

The last addition to DeCS 2020, with the beginning of the current pandemic, was the creation of the concepts of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 that in MeSH 2020 still existed only based on the complementation of MeSH’s Supplementary Concept Records (SCR). The first refers to the Coronavirus infection descriptor and the second to the Beta-coronavirus descriptor. These two concepts will become descriptors in 2021.

Figure 1 – DeCS growth since the last version
Figure 2 – Distribution of the 297 new DeCS 2020 descriptors by category

About DeCS

The DeCS structured and multilingual vocabulary was created by BIREME to serve as a unique language in the indexing of scientific journal articles, books, conference proceedings, technical reports and other types of materials, and also to be used in search and retrieval of scientific literature topics, in the sources of information available at the Virtual Health Library (VHL), such as LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature) and MEDLINE (Online System for Analysis and Recovery of Medical Literature), among others

The MeSH of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) was developed in order to allow the use of common terminology for research in the languages of the Latin America and Caribbean region, providing a consistent and unique means of retrieving information regardless of the language.

Its updating is carried out in line with the MeSH update, which occurs at the end of each year and involves the insertion of new descriptors and the elimination, modification and hierarchical repositioning of others.

The Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME/PAHO/WHO) is responsible for translating the descriptors, their synonyms, their scope and indexing notes into Portuguese, as well as coordinating the translation of these data. join DeCS. The translation into regional Spanish is carried out in collaboration with the Facultad de Medicina de la Universidad de Chile and, for Spain’s Spanish, with the Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencias de la Salud of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. The French translation is carried out by the Institut National de la SantĂ© et de la Recherche MĂ©dicale (INSERM) (for the MeSH terms) and by the Department of Medical Informatics of the UniversitĂ© de Rouen-Normandie, both in France (for the exclusive terms of DeCS). BIREME also makes the hierarchical changes implemented by MeSH and corrects the exclusive terminology of DeCS. These activities take place throughout the year and comprise the annual update of the DeCS

The DeCS integrates the LILACS methodology, the VHL and, additionally, participates in the project to develop the unique terminology and semantic network in health UMLS (NLM’s Unified Medical Language System), being responsible for updating the terms in Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition to the original medical terms of the MeSH, BIREME developed the specific areas of Public Health, Homeopathy, Science and Health and Health Surveillance, the transversal axes of PAHO/WHO (gender, ethnicity, human rights and equity), Digital Health and Coverage universal

The concepts that make up the DeCS are organized in a hierarchical structure, which allows the use of research in broader and more specific terms, or all terms that belong to the same hierarchical branch.

For more details on the new version of DeCS, we recommend the article ‘News about DeCS’ in the DeCS 2020 edition.


Links of interest

Virtual health Library

Health Science Descriptors

Health Science Descriptors (beta version)

Medical Subject Headings


Related posts

Bulletin 34 – Searching with DeCS terms is a guarantee of best outcomes

Bulletin 22 – BIREME and the NLM: over 50 years of cooperation

Bulletin 20 – DeCS 2018 is available online

Bulletin 9 – The role of DeCS in democratizing access to health information

NLM Technical Bulletin number 432 [jan/feb 2020] – New MeSH Supplementary Concept Record for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China

NLM Technical Bulletin number 433 [mar/apr 2020] – More New MeSH Supplementary Concept Records for COVID-19

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *