The inclusion of the term Multimorbidity in MeSH

By Juliana Reis

In Health Sciences as in all areas of knowledge, new concepts are added to the scientific community. The terminology of science communication is under constant construction. The use of new concepts is strengthened by the adherence of these new terms in scientific publications, inclusion in the syllabus of undergraduate and postgraduate courses and updating of programs, in the organization and conduction of studies and research groups, and especially in the inclusion of controlled vocabulary.

We were pleased to be given the news of the inclusion of the term Multimorbity in the controlled vocabulary of Health Sciences as a descriptor of the Medical Subject Heading – MeSH and consequently to the Descriptors of Health Sciences – DeCS, that we use in Brazil. See figure 1 for the hierarchical structure to which the Multimorbity descriptor is added.

Figure 1 – Hierarchical structure of the MeSH Multimorbity descriptor. 2018

Source: MeSH (

This is a great achievement for the field of Multimorbidity knowledge since it will increase the visibility of the subject, the capacity to retrieve information in bibliographic databases and will promote the mobility of knowledge in all dimensions – assistance, teaching, research, management and policies.

The attempt to have the term recognized is not recent. Martin Fortin and collaborators carried out the bibliometric study “Multimorbidity is common to family practice Is it commonly researched?”, published in 2005, which evaluated the application of the concept of multimorbidity in the medical literature. The reference period was 1990 to 2002 and stressed  the importance of including the term Multimorbidity as a descriptor in MeSH to make reviews more effective.
In a recent study, published in 2016 and called “Towards increased visibility of multimorbidity research”, researchers continued the previous study, covering the period ranging from 2005 to 2015. Again they emphasized the relevance of the term multimorbidity for inclusion in MeSH.

In this sense, we thank Martin Fortin for insisting on presenting evidence to make the term Multimorbidity a MeSH descriptor.

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