CINAHL - Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature - is a major literature database for nursing and allied health. This section covers searching for best evidence in CINAHL Plus with Full Text, and sharing and saving your searches. You don't need to have an account to share a search strategy, but you do need one to save searches.
This material uses the cranberry juice/UTIs topic as a sample search. If you have studied NRS531, you might recognise the material from the NRS531 Research Skills Guide.
When you are searching on a complex topic and want to take advantage of the system of official subject headings, you need to search for one idea at a time, and then combine the results later. In the case of the cranberry juice/UTIs topic, we need to search for articles about UTI, articles about cranberry juice, and articles about aged care homes, and then find which articles are in all three search sets. Let's start with our first component, UTIs:
Tick the box for Suggest Subject Terms.
Type "urinary tract infections" in the search box and click on Search. CINAHL matches our term to the official subject heading Urinary Tract Infections.
There is another CINAHL Heading for Urinary Tract Infections, Catheter- Related, but that's probably a narrower term. We can confirm that by clicking on the Urinary Tract Infections heading (we are following the instructions to "Click linked term for tree view") to take us into the tree (hierarchy) of subject headings. In fact, there are two narrower terms:
If we tick the box in the Explode column (the first of the two columns of tick-boxes) we will select the two narrower terms as well. This is an important concept in using the official subject heading hierarchy, and is a useful way to broaden your search to include other related subject headings.
Ticking the Explode box also displays all the subheadings for this topic: notice that there is one for Prevention and Control. As this matches what we want, we can tick this box, and then proceed to search the database for articles with a subject heading of Urinary Tract Infections - Prevention and Control.
The use of subheadings is another useful feature of using the Suggest subject terms feature of CINAHL.
When working with these subject headings, the idea is to work across the screen from left to right. At the top right of screen, you can see that Urinary Tract Infections/PC is our chosen search term. We can now run this search by clicking on Search Database.
CINAHL will run the search, finding all articles that have Urinary Tract Infections > Prevention and Control as a subject heading. It will retain the search for us to come back to later.
Now we need to search for our next component of our topic:
If we search for "cranberry juice" with the Suggest subject terms box ticked, we see that Cranberry Juice is a CINAHL heading. The Explode tick-box is greyed out, meaning that there are no narrower terms. In this case, we can just tick the box beside the heading, and can then click Search Database.
Lastly, we need to search for the third component of our topic, which is the Population component of our PICO. Again, tick Suggest search terms, and type "aged care home" into the search box. You will see that "aged care home" is not a CINAHL Heading. We are presented with a list of matching or related terms, and the best of these is probably Nursing Home Patients. Again, there are no narrower terms, so we can proceed as before.
We have now done 3 searches, each one representative of one of our PICO components, and each one using an official CINAHL Heading. We now need to combine these search sets to only the articles that are in all of them.
To combine our search sets to get only the articles that are about UTIs AND cranberry juice AND nursing home patients, we need to:
If you need to share your search strategy, you can do this by using the Share drop-down menu at the top right of your results list. If you click on this, you will see a persistent link ("permalink") to your search in the drop-down, as displayed in the screenshot below:
You can copy and paste the link into a browser window.
For more assistance with using CINAHL Headings, this 6 minute video from Tompkins-McCaw Library in Virginia could be helpful:
Your search results are presented as brief records. (Clicking on the title takes you to the full record.) The links beneath the article may include the following options:
But some of the results won't have the full-text attached. In those cases, click on the link, which activates a search for the full article elsewhere in the Library's online subscriptions.
The link should take you to the record for the article in Primo Search and, from there, click on one of the listed databases to get to the full article.
If you wish to ...
... you need to create a personal folder (account). Here’s how ...
You can use your personal account to:
If you wish to save your search for later:
You can save your search or create an alert. Tick the Save Search (Permanent) box, and click the yellow Save button.
The next time you need to access your search, simply log in to your personal folder, and choose Saved Searches from the left menu.