In order to meet regional needs for indexing and retrieving scientific and technical literature from Latin America and the Caribbean, the DeCS/MeSH thesaurus was created in 1986 as a Portuguese and Spanish version of the terms and thematic categories of the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus and expanded with one more category, Public Health. Over time, DeCS/MeSH received three other exclusive categories: Homeopathy (1990), Science and Health (2005), and Health Surveillance (2005). Thus, the DeCS/MeSH thesaurus consists of 16 categories from MeSH plus 4 categories exclusively present in DeCS.
The inclusion of a new specific category in the DeCS thesaurus arises from the need to represent the specialized literature of a certain area of knowledge. Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine (TCIM) comprise a series of medical, therapeutic, and health practices systems, which have in common a comprehensive view of living beings, health, and disease. Some of these systems are part of the ancestral traditions and knowledge of ancient cultures, others are innovative proposals that promote a holistic view of life, health, disease processes, care, recovery, rehabilitation, and even death.
Upon taking over the management of the TCIM VHL, the Network of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine of the Americas (TCIM Americas Network), an international collaborative initiative, proposed to add the topics of TCIM in the DeCS/MeSH thesaurus, in order to facilitate access to documents published on the subject.
The new DeCS/MeSH exclusive thematic category was developed by BIREME/PAHO/WHO, responsible for the management of the DeCS/MeSH thesaurus, based on the VHL TCIM topic structure, represented below and which expands to more specific levels:
Stage 1 – Hierarchical structuring proposal containing the terms of the new category
BIREME/PAHO collected the candidate terms to constitute the new category. After screening to identify terms that did not yet exist in the thesaurus, the new terms had their definitions compiled and were organized into descriptors and alternative terms. The process was recorded in terminology sheets composed of:
- Terms in English, Spanish, and Portuguese;
- Alternative terms;
- Hierarchical code;
- Hierarchy (structure of generic terms);
- Definitions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, when possible.
A key document was presented to a committee of experts from the TCIM Americas Network, which made suggestions for changes, insertions, deletions, or movements of terms. The collaborative work created a technical document that appears as a subsidy to the public consultation on the creation of the new category.
The proposal is to insert, beginning from the next edition of DeCS/MeSH, a code category [MT] called “Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine”, containing 89 hierarchical descriptors, of which 38 would be new in the thesaurus.
Stage 2 – Public consultation
The technical document for the presentation, to the public, of the structure of the new category and the terminology sheets of the new terms that will compose it serves as a starting point for the analysis of the proposal of the new thematic axis. Terms that are already present in the DeCS/MeSH thesaurus in other categories have been indicated in the hierarchy with a link to their current terminological records.
The objective of this stage is to allow all interested parties to participate in the creation of the category and to send their opinions and suggestions. Part of the methodology for creating new categories, the public consultation was launched on a page of the DeCS/MeSH portal that gives access to the technical PDF document and the survey (in Portuguese) containing specific questions about the relevance of the category name, the subcategories analyzed, and open-ended fields for freely expressing opinions and suggestions for inclusion or elimination of terms. The page will be live from March 10th to April 10th, 2022, which is also a period for accepting responses to the form.
Stage 3 – The consolidation of the new category
The consolidation of the MTCI category will take place after analysis, by the MTCI Americas Network, of the suggestions made in the public consultation stage, with BIREME/PAHO being responsible for including the changes approved by the MTCI expert committee in the thesaurus management system.
When made available at the launch of the 2022 edition of DeCS/MeSH, the new category will become the fifth exclusive category of the thesaurus.
Links of Interest
Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine Virtual Health Library (TCIM VHL) – https://mtci.bvsalud.org/en/
Health Sciences Descriptors (DeCS/MeSH) – https://decs.bvsalud.org/en/
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) – https://meshb.nlm.nih.gov/
TCIM Americas Network – https://mtci.bvsalud.org/en/la-red/
 Source: https://mtci.bvsalud.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Esquema-Estructura-tem%C3%A1tica-para-Base-de-datos-BVS-MTyCI-Marzo-4.pdf