Thematic Structure for VHL TCIM

It groups the concepts, models, and evidence dossiers on TCIM. It includes the thematic structure and terminology used to organize the databases

Thematic Structure for the VHL MTCI, was developed by members of the MTCI Network for the Americas, taking into account the epistemological views on health, the Health Models, the glossaries of terms of international entities referring to the subject, as well as the Ministries of Health of different countries of the region. Likewise, we consulted documents, research, books and various tools, both specific to the MTCI area, and from other areas of knowledge such as sociology, medical anthropology, public health and also from the theories of systems of organization of information.

This process of broad reflection and debate allowed us to build a proposal to organize the documents in the databases, in an inclusive manner that responds to the themes of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicines, and related practices.

Outline Thematic structure for VHL MTCI Database.

This section brings information about the Thematic Structure applied in the compilation of contents in VHL TCIM for the Americas and is organized in macro-categories that break down into themes and subthemes.

We will review the basic concepts that were considered for its design and explain how documents were organized and how the search strategies were put together.

What is a Thematic Structure?
The thematic structure is a tool associated to systems to organize information/documents. It is used, here, to put together and classify content and information in VHL initiatives, such as the VHL TCIM for the Americas.

One of the objectives of the Thematic Structure is to guide librarians towards an organized entry of documents in the database. It also enables easier document identification by means of search strategies used by researchers to access the VHL TCIM collection.

Moreover, the Thematic Structure facilitates reviewing the existing terminology in the area and enables the development of related proposals for the DeCS – Health Science Descriptors. For such aim, the Thematic Structure should have ordering axes that are as including as possible, so that themes and subthemes can be organized.

The concept of TCIM that we are using is wide and inclusive, and encompasses all traditional medicines/healthcare systems, and other recognized medical systems, as well as health practices and therapies that are generally understood within TCI Medicine. Definitions by WHO, international organizations, and of Ministries of Health of Americas countries were used to understand the themes.

The Thematic Structure does not intend to propose definitions or concepts in TCIM.

We understand that the epistemological and conceptual reflections about TCIM are important. More information on the topic can be found in the Section Conceptual Models in TCIM.

What is structured vocabulary
  • Structured vocabulary is a collection of terms organized according to a methodology, in which it is possible to specify relations between concepts with the objective of facilitating access to information.
  • The vocabulary is used as a kind of filter between the language used by the author and the field terminology, and can also be considered a search assistant, since it helps users refine, expand, or enrich their search by providing more objective results.

(See more in DeCS).

Methodology used
  • Literature review on TCIM classification.
  • Revision of definitions from the WHO, and International Bodies and Ministries of Health of the Region countries.
  • Literature review on information organization systems.
  • Virtual meetings and collective work among network members.

Design process
The Thematic Structure for the VHL TCIM was developed by members of the TCIM Network for the Americas, having in mind epistemological approaches in health, health models, glossaries of terms issued by International organizations regarding the theme, as well as by the Ministries of Health and relevant Institutions of different countries in the region. It also included documents, research, books, and several tools, both specific of the TCIM area and from other areas of knowledge, such as sociology, medical anthropology, public health, as well as theories from information organization systems.

This process of extensive reflection and debate enabled the building of a proposal to organize documents in a database in an inclusive manner that responds to the thematic of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine and related practices.
Themes that were common or were present in several of the different medical systems and therapies were identified. These were defined as cross-sectional themes to be intercepted with the several themes and subthemes in an interactive and extensive manner.

Macro-categories and categories were defined using the most similar aspects, as the ordering axis for the organization of TCI Medicine, bearing in mind the proposals of several authors and institutions specialized in the theme. It was consensus among Network Members during the creation of the Thematic Structure to use descriptions of Macro-category contents to respect the variation in TCIM definitions by each country’s health model and norms.

The cross-sectional themes that are being considered in the Thematic Structure are: Strengthening Health, Health Promotion, Preventing Diseases, Health Education, Health Research, Health Paradigms, Health Spiritualism, Public Policies and Norms, Public Health, Health Interculturality, and the categories of elements of each medical system.

Thematic Structure for VHL TCIM
The Thematic Structure comprises three macro-categories that are divided into themes and subthemes, and two sets that group the Elements of Medical Systems and Cross-Sectional Themes.

See the structure below or in the PDF document.

Traditional Health Systems

This macro-category includes documents of medical systems, health systems, or health models used by a town, community, or country, which obey their own cosmovision or paradigm, and have their own medical doctrine, diagnostic and treatment methods, associated to the total sum of knowledges, techniques, and procedures based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences of the different cultures.

Traditional African Medicines
Traditional European Medicines
Traditional Oceania Medicines
Traditional Asian Medicines

  • Traditional Medicines of East Asia
  • Ayurveda Medicine
  • Unani Medicine
  • Siddha Medicine
  • Japanese Medicine
  • Tibetan Medicine

Traditional Medicines of las Americas

  • North-American Traditional Medicine
  • Andean Traditional Medicine
  • Mesoamerican Traditional Medicine
  • Amazon Traditional Medicine
  • Afro-American Traditional Medicine
  • Rom Communities Traditional Medicine

Complex, Non-Traditional Medical Systems
This macro-category includes documents of complex, non-traditional medical systems, considered part of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine group that count on a body of knowledge that has the following characteristics/elements: cosmovision-medical doctrine, morphology, own diagnostic and therapeutic methods that are not connected to traditions of specific peoples or countries.

Neurotherapeutics Medicine
Anthroposophical Medicine

Therapeutic Methods (Therapies)

This macro-category includes documents that are products of research or related to complementary/alternative health practices, therapies and methods used in healthcare and in preventing diseases, and which do not feature the characteristics/elements of a complex/traditional medical system. Some of these therapeutic methods may be part of a traditional or complex system.


Biological Therapies

  • Trophotherapy – Medicinal Plants (Phytotherapy) – Hydrotherapy – Geotherapy – Termalism – Ozone Therapy – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – Orthomolecular – Apitherapy – Hirudotherapy (leech therapy) – Urine Therapy – Hemotherapy – Peloid therapy – Aromatherapy – Homotoxicology

Manual Therapies

  • Osteopathy – Chiropractic care – Shiatzu – Massage – Lymphatic drainage – Kinesiology – Reflection therapy – Feldenkrais Methods – EICIWO

Energy Therapies

  • Suction cups – Reiki – Therapeutic touch – Floral therapy – Magnetotherapy – Bioenergetics – Music therapy – Chromotherapy – Cristal therapy – Filter therapies

Body-Mind Therapies

  • TPsychokinetic – Meditation – Hypnosis – Bio-decoding – Neurolinguistics programming – Holotropic Breathwork – Biofeedback – Laughter Therapy – Yoga – Relaxation – Family constellations – Arts Therapy
Integrative Medicine

The documents related to integrative medicine and integrative practices in health will be included in this macro-category.


Under development

Medical Systems Elements
The complex medical systems in TCI Medicine are supported in other rationalities and paradigms, different from the dominant hegemonic paradigm. TCI Medicine adopts a vital paradigm where what matter is to strengthen health in all its spheres, not only in treating the disease. Therefore, its doctrine body has its own elements: medical doctrine, own vital dynamics and morphology, diagnostic dimension, and specific therapeutic methods.

Medical doctrine
Diagnostic method
Therapeutic method

Cross-sectional themes
These are aspects parallel to the macro-categories and common to several of the Medical Systems and Therapies of the TCI Medicine group. These cross-sectional themes expand the understanding of the several aspects that TCI Medicine brings to the process of promoting health and preventing diseases, taking care of diseases, and intermeddling in all aspects of health. When these relevant aspects are taken into consideration, we can detect cross-sectional themes to the macro-categories and can enable them to be intercepted in the several search strategies.

Health paradigms
Health spiritualization
Health education
Health promotion and strengthening
Disease prevention
Public policies and norms
Popular health practices

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