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Norwich University Kreitzberg Library

Nursing: Searching CINAHL

Essential research databases for nursing and a wealth of publicly available websites, as well as help searching CINAHL & PubMed and links to key dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Basic CINAHL Searching

CINAHL covers the nursing journal literature back to 1981 and is the largest database in the world for the practice of nursing. While there is some overlap with PubMed most of the content in CINAHL is not replicated there.

You can do basic keyword searches in CINAHL and use the limiting features to find very targeted information. Limit by:

  • Age Group
  • Gender
  • Geography
  • Publication Type
  • Journal Subset
  • Clinical Queries
  • ...and more!

Here are results for a simple search for falls limited to only Research Articles and in the Core Nursing Journal subset looking at people 65+ years old in the USA that are. Any limiters not immediately visible on the left of your results will be under Show More or from the Advanced Search screen.

keyword search for falls with limiters applied





Using CINAHL Headings

The real power of CINAHL is in the CINAHL Headings. There are over 12,000 subject headings that were developed to reflect the terminology used by nursing professionals. Making use of these will return considerably better and more focused results. Use them in combination with the limters and you will be a research machine in no time!

Type the term that you want and click browse. Here are the results of a search for asthma. If your search term is not in the headings, CINAHL will provide the best match (sometimes words you would never guess!).

cinahl headings search for asthma

Clicking on the check box for the best heading in your search results provides you with an opportunity for more focused searching via Subheadings. You will always be presented with only the Subheadings that make sense for your topic. Check one (or more) of the Subheading boxes and then click on the Search Database button to run your search. After using the check boxes to add headings to your search you can also scroll down to Browse Additional Terms and add more before hitting Search Database. Below is a snippet of the Subheadings for asthma.

cinahl headings search with asthma selected