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CINAHL Plus® ( Cumulative Index of Nursing Allied Health Literature)

Power Searching Information

   Ready to Power Search CINAHL Plus®?


Here are the most important things to remember:

  1. The Platform is  
  2. See the CINAHL Support Page for Extensive Help


 How to Power Search

Build your sets, using CINAHL Headings (this is a thesaurus) whenever possible.


Evidence-Based Practice Limiter

The Evidence-based practice journal subset is applied to 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. Includes CEU information as well. see Evidence-Based Care Sheets.


CINAHL MeSH Subject Headings

You can target your search using MeSH Subject Headings, same as you would for PubMed or MEDLINE. A how-to page (screenshots not video) is available here.

 Clinical Queries limiter

You can refine your search using specific search strategies designed to narrow your results in five research areas, Therapy, Prognosis, Review, Qualitative, and Causation (Etiology). Three strategies are provided for each area. High Sensitivity - the broadest search to include ALL relevant material. It may include less relevant materials. High Specificity - 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.

Clinical Queries are created in collaboration with the Health Information Research Unit (HIRU) at McMaster University, and are designed for clinician use.

 Index Browse

Index browsing allows the user to view all values that occur in specified fields in a database, along with corresponding hit counts. Access the index browse feature by hovering over "More" on the upper portion of the search screen and select "Indexes." Use the drop-down "Browse and Index" menu to choose the desired index. Indexes can also be searched using tags. Since browse-able indexes are phrase indexed, the exact form and spelling of terms as they appear in the database must be used in conjunction with the tags when entering a search manually. Indexes available for browsing in the CINAHL Plus with Full Text database are listed below. Tags for all fields included in the index browse feature begin with "Z" (e.g. "ZA" for Author).

 Proximity [Phrase Searching], Truncation and Wildcards


 Subject Headings, Descriptors, Thesaurus

Free Floating Subheadings

Not all qualifiers (subheadings) are valid with all Subject Headings.

Qualifiers can be searched independently of the Subject Headings by using the appropriate two letter code in the word indexed Mesh search fields (MW and MJ). If you wish to associate subheadings that are not valid with a given Descriptor, you may ‘AND’ the Descriptor and a Free Floating Subheading.

Ex. MW Bicycles AND MW “SU” to retrieve surgical treatment of bicycle related injuries.

"Be sure to enclose your two-letter code in quotes so the system will not interpret your code as a search field tag (e.g. MW "AB"). You can also search the subheading itself, which is represented by the code (e.g. Abnormalities), but this will also retrieve results with other subject headings that may contain this subheading (e.g. "Abnormalities, Drug Induced")."