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CINAHL Help Guide

Information about how to use CINAHL

Broaden Your Search

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 View Subject Headings and Find Similar Records


Limit to Research

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Combine Searches with Additional Terms


Combine Searches


Research Limits


Broaden Your Search/Find More Citations

1. Identify more Search Terms

Select a citation of interest and click the title to see the Detailed Display (or select citations, add to the Folder, go to the Folder, and click Page Options to change to the Detailed view). Inspect the Major Subjects and Minor Subjects fields in the citation record. Click on an individual term to run a search on that subject heading or copy desired terms into individual search boxes to create a new search.  


2. Find Similar Results

View a citation of interest and click the title to see the Detailed Record. Click on Find Similar Results to the left of the record to see citations closely related to the original citation. These citations are displayed by relevancy.

Reduce Your Search Results

1. Search by field

Search for words or phrases in a specific field, e.g., Title, Major Subject Heading, etc., by selecting from the options available in the Select a Field drop-down menu.  

2. History 

Click on Search History below the search boxes to view the searches for the current session. Combine previous searches or add additional terms to an existing search by checking boxes next to past searches and clicking Search with AND or Search with OR. You can also manually combine past searches using the search number (e.g., S2 AND S6 or S3 AND drug therapy) in the Search box.

3. Limit to Research 

Limit to Research Article

Select Research Article in the Limit Your Results options below the search boxes to retrieve ALL types of research articles.

Limit to Randomized Controlled Trials

Select Randomized Controlled Trials in the Limit Your Results options below the search boxes to retrieve only research articles using a randomized controlled study design.

Limit by Publication Type

Select SPECIFIC research designs in the Publication Type menu such as Clinical Trial or Systematic Review.

Limit by Clinical Queries

Clinical Queries is designed for clinician use and uses filters to limit retrieval to research-based citations on clinical topics or systematic reviews. Select specific query type: Therapy, Prognosis, Review, Qualitative, Causation (Etiology). As research may require different emphasis, three strategies are provided for each area.

  • High Sensitivity is the broadest search, to include ALL relevant material. May also include less relevant materials.
  • High Specificity is the most targeted search to include only the most relevant result set. May miss some relevant materials.
  • Best Balance retrieves the best balance between Sensitivity and Specificity.

Limit by Evidence-Based Practice

Select Evidence-Based Practice to retrieve articles from evidence-based practice journals (including Cochrane), as well as articles about evidence-based practice, research articles (including systematic reviews, clinical trials, meta analyses, qualitative studies), commentaries on research studies (applying practice to research), case studies if they meet the criteria of the use of research and/or evidence-based practice terms.

4.  Exclude PubMed Results

If you have already done this search in PubMed and want to eliminate those references duplicated in CINAHL, under Limit your Results, select Exclude MEDLINE records.

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