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CINAHL: Searching For and Retrieving Articles

Link to CINAHL


More Demos

Keywords, Synonyms and Clinical Terms

Are you having difficulties with finding articles on your topic?  One important step is to find other terms or keywords that describes your topic.  Here are a few ways to find them:

1.  Look at CINAHL Headings. 

2.  Use the clinical, professional term.  Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) may provide these; use their website to identify these.

3.  Generate synonyms, or words that mean the same thing.  Include terms that are very similar or related to your original keyword.


CINAHL is an index, or a collection list of articles and other publications. CINAHL focuses on publications within nursing and other health science fields. CINAHL allows researchers to find publications on various aspects of nursing.

Searches can be done by using either natural language (keywords) or controlled vocabulary (CINAHL Headings) to find relevant publications. CINAHL usually provides bibliographic information about a publication (such as its author(s), title, year published, and other publication information) and may often provide access to the full text of an article where its full content can be found.  

CINAHL has various features that help refine a search for articles. Its advanced search and limiters allow searches to have some pre-defined criteria such as range of date published, type of publication, and whether or not an article should appear in a peer-reviewed journal.

Many articles along with past and current research can be found using CINAHL and other health science indexes and databases. Graduate and other students who will undertake a literature review (and also those who plan to go to graduate school) should become familiar with CINAHL and its many features.

Did you know that?  CINAHL is an acronym for Cumulative Index in Nursing and Allied Health Literature!

CINAHL includes many Help and other resources for its users.

  • Help:
    • Click on "Help" at the top right side of the page to search for and find help.
      • Click on "Print" at the top right of the Help page to print out the page(s) for the specific task you are viewing in Help.
      • Read Help topics or watch video tutorials.
        • Finding a tutorial: Type the word "tutorial" in the search box within Help and hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard. You will be shown all video tutorials available in Help.
        • Video tutorial links also appear in a green banner near the top of the individual help topic.
        • View the Searching CINAHL video that reviews a variety of topics, including browsing CINAHL indexes and creating search alerts (this is a training video specifically for customer service representatives, but contains much information).
    • Some Video Tutorials:
  • Sign In:
    • Create an account with CINAHL (and also works with other EBSCOhost databases) to save searches, articles, links, highlights in books, annotations, books onto your personal bookshelf, etc.
    • Sign into the account whenever you use CINAHL  - make it the first thing you do before you start your search - in order to retrieve or re-run your search and more.
  • CINAHL Subject Headings:
    • Use CINAHL Subject Headings to help guide you to the best terms to use for your search.
Last updated on Feb 23, 2024 11:55 AM