Characterization of the Medical Subject Headings thesaurus for pharmacy.


PURPOSE The completeness and utility of pharmacy-oriented Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) relative to MeSH terminology pertaining to other healthcare professions (dentistry and nursing) are evaluated. METHODS The 2013 version of the MeSH thesaurus-the standard vocabulary used by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to index articles in PubMed and MEDLINE-was searched for dentistry-, nursing-, and pharmacy-specific terms using a truncation strategy (search terms: nurs*, dent*, and pharm*); the hierarchical level of each term and the number of descendant terms (an indication of the granularity of the associated NLM-indexed content) were determined. PubMed searches were conducted to identify areas of the MeSH hierarchy containing dentistry- and nursing-specific terms but no equivalent pharmacy-specific term. RESULTS The search of the MeSH thesaurus identified 145 terms representing dentistry-specific activities and 94 and 26 terms specific to nursing and pharmacy practice, respectively. Analysis of the three sets of MeSH terms indicated that dentistry-oriented MeSH terms were generally situated more prominently within the MeSH hierarchy than terms for nursing- and pharmacy-oriented research; the MeSH terminology oriented toward nursing or dentistry practice was relatively more granular, allowing for increased specificity and power of information retrieval during PubMed and MEDLINE searches. Seventeen proposed new MeSH terms describing key areas of pharmacy practice were identified; the inclusion of these terms in the MeSH hierarchy could substantially expand and improve the retrievability of NLM-indexed literature. CONCLUSION Imbalances and gaps were found in MeSH coverage of pharmacy concepts and terminology relative to MeSH terminology specific to the nursing and dentistry professions.

DOI: 10.2146/ajhp140073

Cite this paper

@article{Minguet2014CharacterizationOT, title={Characterization of the Medical Subject Headings thesaurus for pharmacy.}, author={Fernando Minguet and Lucienne van den Boogerd and Teresa Maria Salgado and Cassyano Janu{\'a}rio Correr and Fernando Fernandez-Llim{\'o}s}, journal={American journal of health-system pharmacy : AJHP : official journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists}, year={2014}, volume={71 22}, pages={1965-72} }