Understanding Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) are a powerful tool for searching Medline, th...
Understanding Medical Subject Headings (MeSH): ExampleWhen using MeSH it’s important to pay attention to the Scope Note an...
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Understanding Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)


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A short handout describing Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

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Understanding Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

  1. 1. Understanding Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) are a powerful tool for searching Medline, the premier database of biomedicalliterature. Indexers read each article and apply the headings that describe the intellectual content of the article.When you search using a MeSH heading you are searching for articles that have had that MeSH applied to it. Bellowis an example article from Medline and some of the MeSH that have been applied to describe it’s content. The box-es around the article show some of the MeSH and their definitions (as found in the scope note).Smoking NeoplasmsInhaling and exhaling the smoke of burning New abnormal growth of tissue. Malig-TOBACCO. nant neoplasms show a greater degree of anaplasia and have the properties of invasion BMJ. 2004 Jun 26;328(7455):1519. Epub 2004 Jun 22.Adult Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years ob-A person having servations on male British doctors.attained full growth or Doll R, Peto R, Boreham J, Sutherland I.maturity. Adults are of Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU), Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE.19 through 44 years of OBJECTIVE: To compare the hazards of cigarette smoking in men who formed their habits at different periods, and the extent of the reduction in risk when ciga- When youage. For a person be- rette smoking is stopped at different ages. search usingtween 19 and 24 years RESULTS: The excess mortality associated with smoking chiefly involved vascular, neoplastic, and respiratory diseases that can be caused by smoking. Men born in keywords, youof age, YOUNG ADULT is 1900-1930 who smoked only cigarettes and continued smoking died on average about 10 years younger than lifelong non-smokers. Cessation at age 60, 50, 40, or 30 are (usually)available. years gained, respectively, about 3, 6, 9, or 10 years of life expectancy. The excess mortality associated with cigarette smoking was less for men born in the 19th century and was greatest for men born in the 1920s. The cigarette smoker searching the versus non-smoker probabilities of dying in middle age (35-69) were 42% nu 24% (a words in the twofold death rate ratio) for those born in 1900-1909, but were 43% nu 15% (a threefold death rate ratio) for those born in the 1920s. At older ages, the ciga- rette smoker versus non-smoker probabilities of surviving from age 70 to 90 were title and ab- 10% nu 12% at the death rates of the 1950s (that is, among men born around theHumans 1870s) but were 7% nu 33% (again a threefold death rate ratio) at the death rates stract only. of the 1990s (that is, among men born around the 1910s).Members of the species CONCLUSION: A substantial progressive decrease in the mortality rates among non- smokers over the past half century (due to prevention and improved treatment ofHomo sapiens. disease) has been wholly outweighed, among cigarette smokers, by a progressive increase in the smoker nu non-smoker death rate ratio due to earlier and more intensive use of cigarettes. Among the men born around 1920, prolonged cigarette smoking from early adult life tripled age specific mortality rates, but cessation at age 50 halved the hazard, and cessation at age 30 avoided almost all of it.Prospective Studies PMID: 15213107 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] MeSH TermsObservation of a popu- Adultlation for a sufficient Age Distributionnumber of persons over Aged These are the MeSH Aged, 80 and overa sufficient number of Cause of Death headings that have Epidemiologic Methodsyears to generate inci- been applied to this Great Britain/epidemiologydence or mortality rates Humans article. When you Lung Neoplasms/mortalitysubsequent to the se- Male search using MeSH Middle Agedlection of the study this is what you are Mortality/trendsgroup. Neoplasms/etiology searching. Neoplasms/mortality* Physicians/statistics & numerical data* Prospective Studies Smoking/mortality* Smoking Cessation/statistics & numerical data* Franklin Sayre, UBC Library, franklin.sayre@ubc.ca
  2. 2. Understanding Medical Subject Headings (MeSH): ExampleWhen using MeSH it’s important to pay attention to the Scope Note and where the term is located in the MeSHTree. Bellow is an example of two MeSH entries that sound similar but represent very different concepts and there-fore retrieve very different results.Scope Notes:The Scope Note tells you about the definition, history (including when the term was introduced and any previous in-dexing), Entry Terms, related MeSH, and where it is located in the MeSH Tree (hierarchy). MeSH Heading: Pregnant Women MeSH Heading: Pregnancy Scope Note: Human females who are pregnant, as cultural, Scope Note: The status during which female mammals car- psychological, or sociological entities. ry their developing young ( EMBRYOS or FETUSES) in utero before birth, beginning from FERTILIZATION to BIRTH. Entry Term: Pregnant Woman Entry Term: Gestation Entry Term: Women, Pregnant Year introduced: 1963 Previous Indexing: Pregnancy (1966-2002)Location within the MeSH Tree:MeSH are organized in a hierarchical tree structure, with broad concepts at the top level and more specific conceptsbellow. Bellow is the broadest level of the tree along with two examples of more specific MeSH concepts. Persons Phenomena and Processes Women Reproductive and Urinary Physiological Phenomena Battered Women Reproductive Physiological Phenomena Dentists, Women Reproductive Physiological Processes Physicians, Women Reproduction Pregnant Women Pollination ... Pregnancy ...Example Articles: Title: Attitudes of pregnant women towards participation in peri- Title: Immediate compared with delayed pushing in the second natal epidemiological research. stage of labor: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Abstract: We assessed attitudes of a multi-ethnic sample Abstract: To estimate whether immediate or delayed pushing in of pregnant women in regard to participation in five data collec- the second stage of labor optimizes spontaneous vaginal delivery tion procedures planned for use in the National Childrens Study… and other perinatal outcomes… MeSH Terms: MeSH Terms: Adult Cesarean Section/statistics & numerical data Attitude to Health/ethnology Delivery, Obstetric/methods* Delivery, Obstetric/statistics & numerical data ... Extraction, Obstetrical/statistics & numerical data Pregnant Women/psychology* ... Prenatal Care. Parturition Pregnancy Franklin Sayre, UBC Library, franklin.sayre@ubc.ca