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HEALTHINFOQUEST Go to NN/LM Home page. Go to HIQ Home page. pathfinders site map help
When and How to Use: MeSH
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) are very helpful when searching for medical concepts and comprehending their relationships.

MeSH is a thesaurus of biomedical terms developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to index materials in the MEDLINE database. Its controlled vocabulary increases the likelihood of accurate retrieval of information.

The hierarchical trees (parent/child relationships) in MeSH group specific terms under more general headings. Selecting broad and narrow terms from a tree or reversing the order of terms can help you search more efficiently.

How to use:

Go to PubMedMeSH Browser
The following link will open in a new window.

  1. Type the term temporal arteritis into the "Search for" text box.
  2. When the definition appears, click on [Detailed display] next to the term. Scroll down to see
    • Subheadings allowed with this term.
    • See Also: [link to] polymyalgia rheumatica.
    • The location of temporal arteritis in a number of disease trees.
  3. The hierarchical displays give you a much better idea of the complexity of this disease and some additional ideas for search strategies to retrieve information on it.

Click Help in the blue navigation bar for:

  • Specific information on the MeSH vocabulary,
  • Use of the MeSH browser, and
  • Navigating the trees.

How to use:

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) also provides a The following link will open in a new window. MeSH Browser.

  1. Type the term alternative medicine into the box and press [Enter].
  2. Notice the different types of information. The NLM browser includes such details as
    • Allowable Qualifiers (if you click on the abbreviations, a full description of the subheading and its use will appear).
    • Entry Terms.
    • MeSH tree number.
    • Annotation (can be very interesting).
    • The Scope Note defines the term, while Online and History Notes indicate how this concept has evolved since 1983 and how it should be searched in MEDLINE backfiles.
  3. Scroll down to see the MeSH Tree Structures for your search term.
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