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
, and others.
It was developed from the
- Medical Subject Headings
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
and is an integrating component of the Virtual Health Library.
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
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 33,136 descriptors, of which 28,552
come from MeSH, and 4,584 are exclusively DeCS. These exclusive DeCS descriptors
have 7661 non-MeSH hierarquic codes, of which 2163 are added to 1,559 MeSH
descriptors. The following are the DeCS categories and their total number
of descriptors: Health Surveillance (823); Homeopathy (1,948), Public Health
(3,490); and Science and Health (228). 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
to revise strategies used in searching thematic areas of a VHL
Date of last update: May, 2017