What is a thesaurus?
A thesaurus can be described as a dictionary of medical terms. In many databases you can use thesaurus, but they can also be called MeSH or Subject Headings. A thesaurus is a list of controlled keywords, which means that specific terms have been selected to describe a particular term. These terms are arranged in a hierarchical structure, where broad terms are high up in the hierarchy, and narrow terms are far down. This can help you when you need to broaden your search to get more hits. When you use controlled keywords you usually get more relevant hits.
What is Swedish MeSH?
The abbreviation MeSH stands for Medical Subject Headings, and is a medical subject heading produced by the National Library of Medicine in the United States. The Swedish translation, Swedish MeSH, is translated by the Karolinska Institutet's University Library. Therefore, sometimes translations of Swedish terms, which have no American equivalent, can sometimes be missing. Keep in mind that Swedish MeSH is not a Swedish-English dictionary in the ordinary sense, the translation from Swedish to English only shows which terms you should use when searching different databases.
Examples from Swedish MeSH:
If you want to find a topic that describes "critical life-changing events," you could use one of these terms:
- Life experiences
- Life experience
- Event, life change
- Events, life change
In Swedish MeSH you can see that it is the subject term Life Change Events that you should use. Under synonyms you can also see that the term captures all of the above terms with one single term.
MeSH in other databases
MeSH is primarily used in the PubMed database, but you can also use MeSH terms when you start your search in other databases. Often the same subject headings are used, although there are a different thesaurus, but remember that you can get inferior search results if the terms do not match. Thesaurus for other databases can be found directly in the database, and then there is no Swedish translation.
Children for disabled parents could be sought with the word combination:
child AND parents AND disabilities , but then you do not know if it is the children or parents who are disabled. If you search in Swedish MeSH for the concept of disabled parents, you will find the following term: Child of impaired parents . In Cinahl's thesaurus the term Children of impaired parents is used to describe this instead.