Thesaurus Project

The RCCM's Complementary and Alternative Medicine Thesaurus


  • A reference tool for researchers and academics, providing a conceptual framework and an understanding of the scope of CAM terms.
  • A useful reference source for librarians, other information professionals and anyone who deals with enquiries relating to complementary medicine.

What does the RCCM CAM Thesaurus cover?
The thesaurus provides systematic and comprehensive coverage of the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and establishes the basis for a controlled vocabulary of this subject area. It has been developed as a tool for indexing and retrieval of bibliographic citations from the specialist CISCOM database produced by the RCCM.

This pilot version of the Thesaurus has been designed with a simple hierarchical structure and consists of approximately 340 terms. In future it will continue to be developed with new terms, deeper coverage of some of the therapies, and improvements to the structure as these are identified.

The Thesaurus structure is displayed in two ways: first as graphical charts, then in a hierarchical listing of terms. The charts provide a clear illustration of the major categories and their further subdivisions.

The Hierarchical Listing
The high-level structure is divided into five major categories, which represent important aspects of the subject field of CAM from the point of view of the current research priorities in the field:

  • Complementary Medicine Diagnostic Methods
  • Complementary Medicine History Theory And Philosophy
  • Complementary Medicine Research
  • Complementary Medicine Therapies
  • Medicine Systems

The hierarchical listing is easy to navigate to find a particular term. It is also useful for searching at different levels of specificity as the more general terms are exploded to retrieve citations indexed with the more specific terms.

Example taken from the category - “Complementary Medicine Therapies”:

Acupuncture therapy
Acupoints
Acupressure
Shiatsu
Acupuncture
Acupoint Bloodletting
Acupuncture Analgesia
Ear Acupuncture
Electroacupuncture
Needling
Scalp Acupuncture
Biopuncture
Colorpuncture
Cupping
Laser Acupuncture
Meridian Therapy
Meridians
Moxibustion

The Alphabetical Listing
Each of the 340 terms in the Thesaurus can be found in an alphabetical listing, with the following information

  • scope note (or definition)
  • reference to non-preferred terms (synonyms)
  • references to one level broader or narrower term
  • references to related terms which might provide a different aspect of the topic of interest.

Example taken from the category “Complementary Therapies”:

Acupuncture Therapy
Scope Note - SN: A system of health care that has been practiced in China for more than 4000 years. It balances the body's life force by inserting fine needles at specific points along energy pathways, called meridians. This term also encompasses other techniques that do not involve the use of needles, for example, cupping, biopuncture, colorpuncture, laser acupuncture. (Based on Segen)

Broader Term - BT: Energy Therapies
Narrower Terms - NT: Acupoints, Acupressure, Acupuncture, Biopuncture, Colorpuncture, Cupping, Laser Acupuncture, Meridian Therapy, Meridians, Moxibustion
Related Terms - RT: Chinese Traditional Medicine, Qi

The full list of terms and definitions can be downloaded for free from the Resources for CAM Research menu that is available to RCCM Friends (see Join the RCCM).

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Last updated on15 August, 2013 - 08:37
Created on23 December, 2010 - 17:15