Cinahl – tips for Searching

Cinahl is a nursing specialist database. It can help you to find good quality research and evidence, focused on nursing topics. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you to use it effectively.

Use Quotes
When searching with your own keywords, always put phrases (more than one word) in double quotation marks "  " eg “high blood pressure”. This will help to focus your search to that specific phrase.

Use Truncation
Use truncation after the stem of a word to ensure that you get singular and plurals of words and other variations, eg nurs* gives you nurse, nurses and nursing. This helps you to expand your search to include variations of your keywords.

Use the Thesaurus
Always back up your keyword search with a thesaurus search (CINAHL headings). Thesaurus terms are added to articles, like an index in a book. This increases the likelihood of you finding articles about that topic. It can also help you to find more technical terms for your keywords. For example you could use the phrase “high blood pressure” as well as the thesaurus term hypertension.

Screen-shot of an example thesaurus search

Combine Search Terms
You can combine similar terms using OR eg “high blood pressure” OR hypertension

You can combine different concepts using AND, eg “high blood pressure” AND diabetes

Add Limits
You can add limits to the last line of your search if you want to filter the number of results, for example by Date or Language. This can help you focus your search. On the left of the Cinahl results page, find Limit To and click the Show More link underneath for all the limit options.

Screen-shot of the Limit Options


For more help using Cinahl try our etutorial Using Cinahl.

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