Vocabulary and Taxonomy Issues When Searching Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health LiteratureT health literature

Mary Jo Dorsey, Ellen Detlefsen


Objective: To describe the gaps in existing vocabularies and taxonomies that are used to retrieve literature on health issues for LGBT adolescents in order to build a working ontology of appropriate terms.

Methods: A formal literature search on healthcare concerns of LGBT adolescents was done, using indices to the literature of the health sciences, the social and psycho-social sciences, and the information sciences. No terms from standard subject heading lists and controlled vocabularies such as MeSH®, the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms®, the ERIC Thesaurus®, and the MedlinePlus® Consumer Vocabulary, exist that adequately describe this literature, making precise retrieval difficult. A search using keywords and text words yielded 80 articles, and a careful reading of the articles prompted this effort to develop an ontology of “gay-sensitive” terms from the consumer informatics perspective.

Results: A first-step model of LGBT terms, derived from the published research literature, is presented, which offers a more appropriate set of terms to use when searching the multi-disciplinary literature that reports current research on health concerns of LGBT adolescents. If an ontology can be developed, tested, and described for this topic, it will add to the sparse literature on consumer terminology for informatics applications.

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