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Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health: Home

This LibGuide will provide basic information on searching CINAHL

Getting Started

To  use the Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL) database, go to the library home page,, Look at the right hand side menu and select Database Directory. Scroll down and select Nursing and Allied Health, CINAHL will be the fourth database on the list. This will take you to the basic search screen.

CINAHL Headings

In a profession where terminology must be exact, it is essential that you use the correct term when searching a  database. In order to make sure you are using the correct term, go to CINAHL Headings at the top of the search screen in the blue box. The tutorial explaining how to use CINAHL heading is  very good and easy to locate, just click on the VIEW Tutorials on the screen.

Note that the headings are already relevancy ranked.

For example, if you type in the search term Latino, this is what you will see.

Correct Terms

Search Results

Once you have selected your subject terms, entered them in the boxes, pulled down the menu to select subject and press the search button, the computer will search the database and let you know how many results fit the criteria you selected.

Your search has retrieved eleven results. The icon shows it is an academic journal. The title of the article is The influence of Latino ethnocultural factors on decision making at the end of life: withholding and withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration. The Author is del Rio N, the journal title is Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care, date July-Dec. 2010, vollum 6, issues 3/4, and pages 125-49. This information is your bibliographic citation.

This article is available in PDF Full Text which means that you can view the article as it appeared in the journal and also print it out in the same format. You will occassionally find articles in HTML full text. This means the article text was typed in rather than scanned from the journal itself. This format is equally valid, but is not as attractive. When you have a choice, select PDF full text.

Refining Your Search

It is not unusal to retrieve too many articles, too few, or not exactly what you need. When that happens, you will need to refine your search. By following these steps you can improve your search strategy:

1. Check your search terms in the CINAHL Headings. Also make sure you have the right item selected in the pull down menu.

2. If you are looking for scholarly professional journals, make sure that you have checked the Peer Reviewed box.

3. If you are looking for articles of a specific age, you can indicated date ranges by indicating the ranges in Published Date  from

4. If you are encountering foreign languages you can limit to English Language.

5. Another of other limits are available to you. Just remember that the more limits you put on, the fewer results you will get. It is almost impossible to do a perfect search so  if more than half of your articles are relevant, you are doing it right.

6. The search  engine is not  designed to be  precise so it is still up to the user to make sure the articles fill the need.

7. In most cases, it is a bad idea to limit your search to full text articles unless you need only a few articles or you are taking a class through distance learning and cannot come to a library. Remember that non-full text articles can be obtained through Interlibrary Loan free of charge.

Searching Multiple Databases

It is possible to search more than one database at a time, if the databases are all supplied by EBSCOHost. In order to do this, go to the top of the screen and select Choose Databases. A list of all the EBSCOHOST databases available to Northwestern State will pull down. Check the databases you want to search. Remember the more on select the slower the search will be. Also, each database searches a little differently so you will not want to do this for a very complicated search.

After selecting your databases, the basic search screen will appear. The top limits such as dates, peer reviewed, etc., will work on all the databases. As you scroll down, you will see the limits specific to each database.

CINAHL Search Screen


Search Terms

As you can see, the preferred term for Latino is Hispanic. You know that you will get more relevant results if you use that term in your searching.

Now that you have selected your terms, you can perform your search. Go back to the search screen and type in your terms.

Results Screen

Limit Your Results

Refine Your Results

You can also refine your results by using the menu on the left hand side of your results page. Be sure to click on update after you have made your changes.