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Cataloging and Metadata Management: Using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in Cataloging

Module 5—Qualifiers (Subheadings)

Qualifier Hierarchies

  • Qualifiers are also arranged in a hierarchical structure

  • For example, diagnosis is the broad qualifier, narrower qualifiers dealing with diagnosis include pathology, radiography, radionuclide imaging, and ultrasonography

  • The qualifier hierarchies can be found here.

Rule of Three

  • If more than one qualifier is needed, repeat the descriptor with the appropriate qualifier

  • Generally, no more than three qualifiers should be used with any one descriptor

  • Use the qualifier hierarchies to assist in reducing the number of qualifiers

  • If going up the hierarchy does not help reduce the number of qualifiers, use the descriptor without any qualifiers


  • You have a work discussing the issues related to a deficiency of estrogens and how to analyze how much estrogen is in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid and urine
    • Use 650 _2 $a Estrogens $x metabolism
      • 650 _2 $a Estrogens $x deficiency
      • 650 _2 $a Estrogens $x blood
      • 650 _2 $a Estrogens $x cerebrospinal fluid
      • 650 _2 $a Estrogens $x urine


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Last Reviewed: July 19, 2017