Skip to main content
kreitzberg library with NU Online guidon

Kreitzberg Library for Online Students


This guide will show you how to use the database CINAHL for your research in the MSN program.

Conducting a Search

CINAHL is one of several important databases used to by nurses for clinical and administrative decision support. You will notice in the following image that our subscription to CINAHL indicates that it contains Full Text.

The screenshots below show a search I've done for articles on evidence-based nursing. Some general tips for searching with CINAHL:

  • Use quotes to search for words together as a phrase.
  • Limit to Default, All Text, or Title from the search fields.
    • Searching in All Text will retrieve more articles, but probably more of them will be irrelevant.
    • Searching in the Title will bring you fewer documents, but they're more likely to be relevant.
  • Consider synonyms when applicable.
  • Use a Boolean operator (And/Or/Not) when needed. Use caution against over-narrowing at the start of your search.
  • Limit to Full Text and Peer Reviewed Journals from the Search Options as necessary.

Conducting a search using keywords in CINAHL

Reviewing Search Results

As you can see below, my results for the search "evidence based nursing" as a phrase retrieved over 700 results.

  • Results are sorted by relevance with the most relevant articles appearing at the top of the list.
  • You can narrow your results even further using the options in the menu on the left.
  • To download, save, or print an article, click the PDF Full Text link.
  • If the full text is not available, click on the Check for Full Text link. This will allow you to search in other databases or request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Reviewing an example of search results in CINAHL