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.

CINAHL (Database Instruction)

This guide explores advanced searching techniques in CINAHL Plus with Full Text (the Cumulative Index to Allied Health Literature).


Think about the main topic of your research question, then pull out the main keywords for that topic and enter ONE keyword in each search box. (For example, do not enter the question Does helmet use reduce head injury but instead enter helmets in the top search box and head injuries in the second search box.) Choose AND, OR, NOT in drop-down menus to connect keywords. In most cases, you will want to search for 2 or more keywords using AND. Then click search.

To further narrow your results, add Limiters.  Important search limiters available in CINAHL are Full text which limits your search to articles where the complete full-text will be available directly in CINAHL. Peer reviewed limits your search to articles that come from scholarly academic journals.  You can also use the date slider to limit your research to within the last 5 years.

Browse CINAHL Subject Headings (MeSH)

If you are not sure which terms or keywords to use, you can browse the CINAHL Subject Headings (MESH headings).   The term helmets is not used in CINAHL, instead use the term Head Protective Devices. Using the correct subject term according to the CINAHL headings will help you to find more articles that are specifically on your topic.


Building Searches Using MeSH Subject Headings

You can build searches using CINAHL Subject Headings by Browsing for the correct headings and adding them as Major Concepts in box on the right side of the page.  Use the Boolean term AND to connect terms and then Search Database.


This search should give results as follows:

Advanced Search Example Using Boolean Operators

CINAHL Limiters

You can narrow your search by using more limiters.  Note, the more limiters you use, the fewer results you will have.

Make a recommendation

Do you have a title to recommend for our collection? Use the Suggest a Purchase form to suggest a book, video or journal.

Do you have suggestions or feedback that can help improve this guide? Please contact this guide's author on the "Getting Started" page.