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The purpose of developing this thesaurus is to provide the maternal and child health (MCH) professional community with a standard vocabulary in MCH program development and management, including health services, research, training, and program administration. The vocabulary focuses on public health; clinical medical terms such as the names of diseases and therapeutic procedures are excluded except when they are germane to public health or MCH. The vocabulary contained here will allow for the indexing and retrieval of a wide variety of materials including government documents, technical reports, educational materials, audiovisual materials, programs, and grants. The thesaurus will be useful to MCH resource centers, libraries, special collections, and databases in organizations such as government agencies; universities and schools of public health; nonprofit and professional organizations that provide information to health professionals, families, and the public; special projects funded by MCHB; and other agencies with programs funded under Title V of the Social Security Act.

Core topics in this thesaurus are (1) women's health, with a primary focus on pregnancy and maternal health; (2) infant, child, and adolescent health; (3) oral health; (4) nutrition; (5) injury and violence prevention; (6) chronic illnesses and disabilities, as related to the MCH population; (7) care of children and adolescents with special health care needs; (8) genetics; and (9) public health programs and services.

The thesaurus contains 3,905 terms.

Development of the Thesaurus

This third edition of the Maternal and Child Health Thesaurus was developed by the Maternal and Child Health Library, National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health (NCEMCH), at Georgetown University, under Cooperative Agreement U02MC00001 with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau reserves a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable right to use the work for federal purposes and to authorize others to use the work for federal purposes.

The second edition of the MCH thesaurus was developed and published by the National Maternal and Child Health Clearinghouse (NMCHC) in 1996. The first edition of the thesaurus was developed by the National Center for Policy Coordination in Maternal and Child Health at the Institute for Child Health Policy, University of Florida, and NMCHC and published in 1991. The MCH Digital Library has used these editions and previous keyword lists to index MCHLine®, the library catalog, and the library's Organizations Database. A subset of the vocabulary has been used to index the library's MCH Projects Database and MCHB's Title V Information System. Starting in 2005, MCHB's Discretionary Grants Information System is using the complete list of terms from the MCH Thesaurus.

When this edition was initiated, staff compared terms in the second edition with terms that had been used in the library databases; terms that had never been used were considered for deletion. In particular, many names of diseases and disorders and names of medical equipment and procedures were deleted. Since 1996, staff have maintained a list of suggested new terms, and these terms were also reviewed and incorporated as necessary.

Staff consulted numerous other thesauri to determine the best way to express new concepts for the thesaurus. In particular, staff used Medical Subject Headings, developed and published by the National Library of Medicine, and the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors, developed by the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resources Information Center and published by Oryx Press. Thesauri in specialized fields such as population and demographics, psychology, health education, nutrition, and nursing were also consulted. Staff also utilized the American National Standards Institute's Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri (ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2003).

The thesaurus was developed using the TCS-8 software from WebChoir, previously the Lui-Palmer Thesaurus Construction System.

Comments about this edition or suggestions for future editions of the thesaurus are welcome, and can be directed to the compiler at opickett@ncemch.org or by calling (202) 784-9776.


For using the Thesaurus, see Notes for the User

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