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Notes for the User

Term Form Conventions
The MCH Thesaurus consists of preferred and nonpreferred terms. The preferred terms, commonly known as descriptors, consist of one or more words that represent a single concept and are used in indexing the library's databases. Nonpreferred terms are not used in indexing but are provided to guide searchers to the descriptor that has been selected for indexing the same concept. For example, Adolescents has been selected as a preferred term and there is a cross reference to it from the nonpreferred terms Juveniles and Teenagers. Both preferred and nonpreferred terms are alphabetized on a word-by-word basis in all thesaurus lists. Word-by-word means that descriptors beginning with a shorter word come before descriptors beginning with a longer word that starts with the same letters as the shorter word. For example, Access to prenatal care comes before Accessible facilities.

Terms are expressed as nouns or noun phrases (terms with more than one word). Noun phrases are expressed in natural word order (e.g., Premature infants, not Infants, premature). The plural form is used when a descriptor can be quantified (e.g., Child health programs, Interviews) and the singular form is used when a descriptor designates a process, activity, or condition (e.g., Nursing, Pregnancy). Phrases with prepositions are used only when the concept cannot be well expressed another way (e.g., Emergency medical services for children). Abbreviations are used for concepts that have become well known by their abbreviations (e.g., HIV, AIDS).

Term Definitions
Standard dictionary definitions are assumed to apply to the terms selected for inclusion in the thesaurus. Scope notes are occasionally provided to clarify ambiguous or less-known terms or to provide guidelines for using them in indexing and searching.

Thesaurus Sections
The MCH Thesaurus consists of the following sections:

  1. An alphabetical list of descriptors and nonpreferred terms showing relationships for each term.
  2. A rotated list of descriptors that provides an alphabetic index to terms under each significant word contained in the term.
  3. Subject categories that display terms according to 21 broad categories.

1. Alphabetical List
The alphabetical list is the most comprehensive display in the thesaurus. It provides a variety of information for each term, as shown in this example (abbreviated from the full thesaurus entry):


SN     Persons between puberty and maturity
UF     Juveniles
BT     Age groups
NT     Adolescent females
         Adolescent males
         Adolescent parents
         Adolescents with special health care needs
RT     Adolescent development
         Adolescent health
         Adolescent pregnancy
         Juvenile delinquents
         Youth development

The meaning of the abbreviations is as follows:

SN: Scope Note. A Scope Note provides information on the descriptor's intended use. The Scope Note may provide a definition of the descriptor, distinguish between descriptors that have overlapping meanings in natural language, clarify or restrict the descriptor's use within the field of MCH, or offer guidelines for indexing or searching.

UF: Used For. A Used For reference identifies nonpreferred terms that represent varied forms of the preferred term, such as synonyms, nonpreferred variants, abbreviations or acronyms, and spelled-out versions of abbreviations and acronyms. Used For references may also represent specific terms that are indexed under a more general term. Used For references are not to be used in indexing or searching. Each Used For term appears separately in the alphabetical list as a USE reference that sends the user back to the preferred term, for example,

Juveniles USE Adolescents

BT: Broader Term. A Broader Term indicates a class or a whole to which the descriptor belongs. To reduce complexity and confusion in the thesaurus, only Broader Terms that are one level up in the hierarchy are shown. A term may have more than one Broader Term, each of which is at equal levels of the hierarchy, for example,

Workplace health promotion

BT     Corporate programs
         Health promotion

NT: Narrower Term. A Narrower Term indicates members of the class indicated by the descriptor (generic relationship), a concept inherently included in the descriptor (whole-part relationship), or an individual instance of the category represented by the descriptor (instance relationship), for example,

Food NT Dairy products (generic)
Medicine NT Pediatrics (whole-part)
Federal legislation NT Public Health Service Act (instance)

The Broader Term-Narrower Term relationship is reciprocal.

RT: Related Term. A Related Term has a close conceptual relationship to the main term but does not have the direct class/subclass relationship of Broader Terms and Narrower Terms. Related Term references help users by reminding them of other terms that they may want to use in indexing or searching. Related Term references and their main terms are reciprocals of one another.

2. Rotated Term List

The rotated term list is designed to help searchers identify terms that share a common word or phrase. It lists each preferred term from the thesaurus by each significant component word in the term. For example, the term Child health is listed twice, once under Child and once under Health. Insignificant words such as prepositions (e.g., for, of, with) are not included, so the term Conflict of interest is listed under Conflict and Interest, but not under Of. Terms sharing the same component word are listed alphabetically at that word. For example, terms containing the word Children are arranged like this:

     Abandoned children
     Adopted children
     Children with special health care needs
     Foster children
     Young children

The rotated term list includes only valid descriptors (preferred terms). It does not include lead-in terms (nonpreferred terms) that are included in the alphabetical list to assist searchers in finding the preferred term for a concept. For example, the alphabetical list includes this entry: Teenagers USE Adolescents. The word Adolescents is in the rotated list, but the word Teenagers is not.

The header word for each group of terms is a valid descriptor only if the same word is included in the list of terms under the header word. For example, Children is a valid descriptor because it is included in the list above. In this entry

     Spatial ability
     Verbal ability

the word Ability is not a valid descriptor by itself because it is not included in the list of terms.

3. Subject Categories

The subject categories are a system of broad categories into which all descriptors are grouped. The purpose of these categories is to provide an easy access point, especially for searchers who are unfamiliar with the terms included in the thesaurus. Each term in the thesaurus is assigned to only one subject category. These lists include preferred and nonpreferred terms, so it is important to check the alphabetical list before using a term.

The subject categories are

Agencies and Organizations
Chemicals and Drugs
Diseases and Disorders
Diagnosis and Intervention
Economics and Politics
Education and Training
Facilities and Buildings
Field, Discipline, and Occupational Groups
Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Health Services Management
Law and Legal Issues
Nutrition and Food
Psychology and Development
Population Groups
Program Types
Research and Data
Reproduction and Genetics
Social and Demographic Issues
Service Types
Technology, Information, and Publications

Web Enhancements

The Web version of this thesaurus, posted at http://www.mchthesaurus.info, includes the PDF version of this document, plus the following:

The Alphabetical List and the Rotated List are broken down into 26 segments that are browsable independently. For example, to find terms related to Children, users can click on the C at the top of either list and bypass the earlier parts of the alphabet.

The Subject Categories are displayed in three ways.

  1. Alphabetical Version
    The alphabetical version displays terms within the subject category alphabetically. Users can select a letter of the alphabet to see terms that begin with that letter, and then can click on any term to see the full listing for that term.
  2. Hierarchical Version
    The hierarchical version displays all terms in the subject category arranged by broad terms, with the narrower terms related to each broader term appearing indented underneath the broader term. Bullet points preceding each word indicate the relative levels of the hierarchy, as shown in this example from the Population Groups category (abbreviated from the full thesaurus entry):

    • Age groups
    • • Children
    • • Grandparents
    • • Parents
    • • • Fathers
    • • • • Adolescent fathers
    • • • • Single fathers
    • • • Mothers
    • • • • Adolescent mothers
    • • • • Single mothers
  3. Expandable Version
    The expandable version displays only terms at the top level of the hierarchy, with an option to click on a plus sign to see the narrower terms that are related to that term.

    Users can select the hierarchical or the expandable version from the navigation bar at the bottom of the Web page. In both versions, users can click on any term to see the full listing for that term.

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