- Health Sciences Descriptors
The trilingual and structured vocabulary DeCS - Health Sciences Descriptors - was created by BIREME to serve as a unique language
in indexing articles from scientific journals, books, congress proceedings,
technical reports, and other types of materials,
as well as for searching and retrieving subjects from scientific literature
from information sources available on the Virtual Health Library (VHL) such as LILACS, MEDLINE, and others.
It was developed from the MeSH - Medical Subject Headings of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) with the purpose of permitting the
use of common terminology for searching in three languages, providing a
consistent and unique environment for the retrieval of information
regardless of the language.
DeCS is part of the LILACS
Methodology and is an integrating component of the Virtual Health
DeCS participates in the unified terminology development project, UMLS - Unified Medical Language System of the NLM, with the responsibility of contributing with the terms
in Portuguese and Spanish.
BIREME also developed terminology in specific areas such as Public Health, Homeopathy, Science and Health,
and Health Surveillance in
addition to the original MeSH terms.
The concepts that characterize the DeCS vocabulary are organized in a tree structure allowing a search on broader or narrower terms or on all terms from the
same tree within the hierarchical structure.
DeCS is a dynamic vocabulary totaling 30,895 descriptors, of which
26,664 come from MeSH, and 4658 are exclusively DeCS. There is an addition
of 2051 hierarchic codes from DeCS categories in 1491 MeSH descriptors. The
following are the DeCS categories and their total number of descriptors:
Health Surveillance (828); Homeopathy (1,944), Public Health (3,491); and
Science and Health (219). The sum is greater than the total number of
descriptors, since a descriptor may occur more than once in the hierarchy.
By being dynamic, it records a permanent process of change including the
development of new areas of terminology.
With the creation of the national, institutional and thematic VHLs,
search strategies were made available in the various topics in order to
facilitate the retrieval of the existing literature.
The updating annually performed in MeSH and the modifications also
carried out in the other DeCS categories, demand the revision and update of
the search strategies on the thematic areas of each BVS, especially the
ones including hierarchical codes. Therefore, it is advised that the team
responsible for their creation also make sure that these strategies can be
revised annually before implementing them. Read text on how to revise strategies used
in searching thematic areas of a VHL.
last update: 02/2012