The most recent edition of the Health Sciences Descriptors (DeCS) was made available for online consultation in March of this year on the DeCS/MeSH portal. Its update has been done annually, as for more than 35 years, and reflects the annual update of the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and involves processes of inserting new descriptors and removing or repositioning others.
The 2023 edition has new descriptors from MeSH and some exclusive to DeCS. Its distribution across the 21 categories of the thesaurus can be seen in the following illustration, considering that, because the thesaurus is poly-hierarchical, a descriptor can appear in more than one hierarchy.
A significant number of new descriptors were included in M category – Group Denominations, highlighting the creation, by MeSH, of the descriptor Traditional Medicine Professionals, which will allow the expansion of this thematic axis also within the DeCS category of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine.
It is also worth mentioning the update of descriptors in French, which had been suspended for three editions. As a result, the 2023 edition had an increase of 2.9% regarding French terms, as compared to the previous edition, and appears as the language with the highest percentual growth.
In an unprecedented way, the update of the portal was announced through an online event promoted by BIREME/PAHO/WHO lasting more than two hours. First, some of the new features of the edition were presented by Luciana Beatriz Piovezan Rio Branco, from the BIREME team, followed by an analysis of the DeCS in the context of information organization, given by Prof. Mariangela Lopes Fujita, from the Universidade Estadual Paulista, UNESP, as a guest. The recording of the event is available on the newly created DeCS/MeSH YouTube channel.
The online event to publicize the launch of the 2023 edition relied on the simultaneous participation of more than 250 people from different locations, including indexers, professors, librarians, and researchers from countries such as Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Ecuador, Spain, USA, Honduras, and Peru, among others. DeCS is the main controlled vocabulary for indexing and retrieving scientific and technical health literature published in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
The DeCS structured and multilingual vocabulary was created by BIREME to serve as a single language for indexing scientific publications in the broad area of health, and for the search and retrieve of topics in the information sources available in the Virtual Health Library (VHL), such as Latin American and Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences (LILACS), and MEDLINE (Online System for the Analysis and Retrieval of Medical Literature), among others.
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