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CINAHL search tips


Refer to EBSCO's tutorials and/or click on the Help button for detailed information on searching, saving citations, saving searches, etc. The most useful tutorial for Lane is the PowerPoint file on Basic and Advanced CINAHL searching.

Below are some specific tips:

Subject Headings
To search using subject headings, title words, author name, etc., use the Advanced Search, which provides multiple search boxes, field labels, and Boolean logic.

Searching by title or other specific fields:
In addition to setting the labels using the pull-down menu on the search page, you can also type in field labels such as TI for title, MH for subject heading, and MM for major topic. For example, to locate articles on nurse-patient relations, when you know the term is a subject heading, you could type:

  • MH NURSE-PATIENT RELATIONS - finds all articles indexed with this term OR
  • MM NURSE-PATIENT RELATIONS - finds articles where this is the main point.

To identify subject headings for the concept of comfort care, type this term into the search box and click the box "Suggest Subject Headings". To locate a subject heading more directly, click on CINAHL Headings in the tool bar above the search box. Type in your term and view the list of subject headings. You can select one or more headings, make them the focal point or not, and select OR or AND to combine the selected headings. Subheadings are also available in to focus your search. (NOTE: The Search button is near the top of the screen.)

To find words in a title (an excellent way to locate highly relevant articles quickly):

  • TI TOBACCO CESSATION - finds this phrase in article titles.
  • TI TOBACCO and TI CESSATION finds these words in titles but in any order.

Truncation or wildcard:

  • Truncate using * after a word root: child* = childbirth, children, etc.
  • Replace a single character with ? as in colo?r = color, colour

Phrases, word adjacency or words in the same field:

  • Enclose a phrase in quotes, e.g., "comfort care".
  • Search for words near each other:
    • Staffing N levels requires the words to be next to each other.
    • Staffing W6 levels requires the words to be within 6 words of each other.