Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Database Tutorials

This LibGuide contains step by step instructions for majority of research databases available in the Wolfgram collection.

CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature)

About this Database

CINAHL provides indexing of the top nursing and allied health literature available including nursing journals and publications from the National League for Nursing and the American Nurses Association. 

This database covers a wide range of topics including:

  • Nursing
  • Biomedicine
  • Health sciences librarianship
  • Alternative/complementary medicine
  • Consumer health
  • Allied health disciplines

In addition, CINAHL provides access to health care books, nursing dissertations, selected conference proceedings, standards of practice, audiovisuals, and book chapters.

CINAHL Search Strategies

The basic search strategy for CINAHL is best for researchers looking at a topic for the first time.  It also takes less time and planning than advanced searching.  Often, for assignments that require 5 or fewer sources, this search strategy is sufficient.  if you aren't finding results using this method, I advise trying the advanced strategy.

Step 1: Pick your search terms

Before you begin searching, think about the terms you want to use.  Take a moment to brainstorm any potential synonyms for your search terms.  Is there a more technical term used by people in the field?  Are there brand name or generic options?  Is there a word that may have been used in the past but is now considered outdated?  Write or type these terms before moving to step 2.

Step 2: Enter your search terms

This three-bar search interface probably looks familiar if you have used databases in the past.  This is where you enter your search terms.  Use the green "Search" button to get your results list.

CINAHL search interface

 

Step 3: Filter your results

This is an important step.  Your assignments often have publication date limits and require peer-reviewed academic journal articles.  The Refine Results menu on the left of the search interface is where you can use these limits to filter your results.

CINAHL search interface with limit menu magnified

The advanced search strategy is best for researchers who are more familiar with their topic or who haven't found the results they needed using the basic search strategy.  This is the preferred search method for post-graduate researchers or researchers working on review or analysis assignments.

Step 1: Pick your search terms

Before you begin searching, think about the terms you want to use.  Take a moment to brainstorm any potential synonyms for your search terms.  Is there a more technical term used by people in the field?  Are there brand name or generic options?  Is there a word that may have been used in the past but is now considered outdated?  Write or type these terms before moving to step 2.

Step 2: Use the CINAHL Subject Headings

Databases are built like social media platforms.  They use hashtags to group items that relate to the same topic.  In databases, we call these tags "Subject Headings."  CINAHL gives users the ability to search through their hashtags to find the ones that connect all of the papers on your topic of interest.  We access this information by using the "CINAHL Subject Headings" link in the top menu.  This will open a new search screen.

CINAHL search interface with "CINAHL Subject Headings" highlighted in a yellow rectangle

Step 3: Selecting your subject headings

Use the search terms that you brainstormed in step 1 to begin your search on this new page.  Enter the terms one at a time to find CINAHL's preferred hashtag.  Clicking the "browse" button will open a list of preferred hashtags.

Graphic representation of the subject headings search opening the list of preferred terms

The subject headings list gives you the ability to build a search using preferred terms by selecting them with a tick box next to the term.  Use the "Browse Additional Terms" link at the bottom of the screen to add another term to your search.  Here are directions for reading this list:

  1. The text after the colon is the term you searched for.
  2. The preferred term, or hashtag, that the database uses to link information.
  3. The small chat bubble icon contains a "scope note" or short definition of the subject heading.
  4. Checking the "major concept" tick box adds the subject heading to your search term list on the right.
  5. The "search database" button will turn green once you add subject headings using the major concept tick box, selecting this button will perform your search with the preferred subject headings.

screenshot of CINAHL Subject Headings search results with labels

Step 4: Filter your results

This is an important step.  Your assignments often have publication date limits and require peer-reviewed academic journal articles.  The "Refine Results" menu on the left of the search interface is where you can use these limits to filter your results.

CINAHL search interface with limit menu magnified

Accessing Results

Once you have a results list, you will need to access the articles you want to review.  There are three ways to access articles in CINAHL, and they depend on how we are providing the requested article.

  1. Download the full text by selecting the PDF Full Text or HTML Full Text link.
  2. Look for the article in one of our other databases using the Full Text Finder link.
  3. Request the article through inter-library loan using the ILLiad Wolfgram link - this requires creating an inter-library loan account.  More information on that can be found here.

CINAHL interface with access options highlighted