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New MeSH for 2015: Nuns, Monks, and Surgeons Get Their Due


Every year, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) updates its list of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)* to take account of new terminology or commonly-used phrases that have now officially entered the health care lexicon. Outdated terms are also retired.

Galter librarians enjoy scanning the new MeSH list to see what NLM has decided is now worthy of inclusion (yes, it’s the little things). Here’s a selection of the terms added for 2015.

We're noticing themes, for sure: The MeSH indexers have added some topical terms about diets (Paleo, raw foods, and high fructose corn syrup); Frankincense finally gets the nod after gold and myrrh had already joined the party years ago; and hooray for monks and nuns, separated out from “Religious Personnel.” (“Clergy” has been enjoying its separate status since 1973.)

And who can’t help but be pleased that “Surgeons” have broken free of the catch-all “Physicians”? We’re sure they deserve it.

* MeSH is the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus. It consists of terms in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity. Search queries in PubMed use MeSH vocabulary to find items on a desired topic.

On a related note for Ovid MEDLINE users: the end-of-year processing at the National Library of Medicine to add new MESH terms and retire old ones is complete in PubMed, but not yet in Ovid MEDLINE. Ovid and other third party MEDLINE providers are still performing global updates on their sites. Auto-alerts and currency of the Ovid MEDLINE files (those with date ranges) may be affected, but the Ovid MEDLINE In-Process file segment will continue to be updated. The Ovid MEDLINE In-Process file segment may be accessed from the list of databases retrieved from the "Change Databases" tab on the main Ovid search screen.


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Updated: March 5, 2020