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Starting Points

Access CINAHL from the link below.

Search Tips

There are a number of helpful tips and hints you can use to improve your search results. 
Tip 1:  To get the most accurate and targeted search results it is recommended that you use the CINAHL Thesaurus that is supplied with the database.

Tip 2:  You can use Boolean operators to link terms together; limit the search to a specific title; and /or restrict the search to a particular date range. 

Note: Stopwords are commonly used words such as articles, pronouns, and prepositions. These words are not indexed for searching in the database. For example, 'the', 'for', and 'of' are stopwords. When a stopword is used in a query, any single word or no word is retrieved in place of the stopword.

Sometimes a search can be overly general (results equal too many hits) or overly specific (results equal too few hits). To fine tune your search, you can use AND, OR, and NOT operators to link your search words together. These operators will help you narrow or broaden your search to better express the terms you are looking for and to retrieve the exact information you need quickly.>

USING THE "AND" OPERATOR: If you have a search term that is too general, you can append several terms together using "AND". By stringing key terms together, you can further define your search and reduce the number of results. Note: Unless you define a specific search field, the result list will contain references where all your search terms are located in either the citation, full display
or full text. 
For example: type high risk AND injury to find only articles that reference high risk injuries. 

USING THE "OR" OPERATOR: In order to broaden a search, you can link terms together by using the "OR" operator. By using "OR" to link your terms together you can find documents on many topics. Linked by this operator, your words are searched simultaneously and independently of each other.
For example: search high risk AND injury OR trauma to find results that contain either the terms "high risk" and "injury", or the term "trauma". 

USING THE "NOT" OPERATOR: In order to narrow a search, you can link words together by using the "NOT" operator. This operator will help you to filter out specific topics you do not wish included as part of your search.
For Example: type: high risk OR injury NOT trauma to find results that contain the terms "high risk" or "injury", but not the term "trauma". 

Grouping Terms Together Using PARENTHESIS
Parenthesis also may be used to control a search query. Without parenthesis, a search is executed from left to right. Words that you enclose in parenthesis are searched first. Why is this important? Parenthesis allow you to control and define the way the search will be executed. The left phrase in parenthesis is searched first; then based upon those results the second phrase in parenthesis is searched. 

Generalized Search: heart or lung and blood or oxygen
Focused Search: (heart or lung) and (blood or oxygen)

  1. In the first example, the search will retrieve everything on "heart" as well as references to the terms "lung" and "blood", and everything on "oxygen". 
  2. In the second example, we have used the parenthesis to control our query to only find articles about heart or lung that reference blood or oxygen. 

Limiting a Search by Date
Click on the Advanced Search tab and use the Year of Publication: limiter in the Limit Your Search Results section located on the lower portion of the search screen.

Reading and Understanding a CINAHL Record

 Sample of a CINAHL Record:

21. Special considerations for the geriatric population. By: Hall C. CRIT CARE NURS CLIN NORTH AM, 2002 Dec; 14(4): 427-34 (journal article - equations & formulas, tables/charts)
Check library catalog for title

The sample citation lists the title of the article: Special considerations for the geriatric population; the author: Hall C.; the journal title or source title:CRIT CARE NURS CLIN NORTH AM; and the volume 14, issue (4) and page number(s) 427-34. This information is helpful for retrieving a print copy from the shelves or for your works cited page.

How do I know if Randall Library owns the journal I have a citation for?
The citations listed in your results list will have a line which states "Check library catalog for title" which willsearch the Library Catalog. In any citation, there is complete information needed to find the article. The Library Catalog will tell you if we have a subscription to the journal, what years we have and how we receive it (i.e. paper, microfilm or electronically). Be sure to carefully check the library record to make sure we have the volume and issue you are looking for.

14. Does inflammation or undernutrition explain the low cholesterol-mortality association in high-functioning older persons? MacArthur studies of successful aging. By: Hu P. J AM GERIATR SOC, 2003 Jan; 51(1): 80-4 (journal article - research, tables/charts)
Linked Full Text  

How do I know if an item is "Full Text" online?
If an item is available in full text format via CINAHL, you will see Linked Full Text. Keep in mind that CINAHL has a very selected number of full text online items, always check the library for the title of an item because we may have that item full text in another database.

Sample of the full record in CINAHL:

Title: Special considerations for the geriatric population
Author(s): Hall C
Affiliation(s): The Center for Professional Excellence, aligned with the Skilled Nursing Facility and Rehabilitation Unit, The Methodist Hospital, 6565 Fannin, Houston, Texas 77030; cdhallapn [at] att [dot] net
Source: Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America (CRIT CARE NURS CLIN NORTH AM), 2002 Dec; 14(4): 427-34 (22 ref)
Publication Type: journal article - equations & formulas, tables/charts
Language: English
Major Subjects: Drug Therapy--In Old Age; Medication Errors--Prevention and Control--In Old Age; Gerontologic Care; Aging--Physiology; Pharmacokinetics--In Old Age
Minor Subjects: Gerontologic Nursing; Geriatric Assessment; Aged
Abstract: Health care providers can be the eyes and ears of patient safety when it comes to medication administration. Simply asking questions about the medication and dose can avert a drug-drug interaction or save the patient's life. When caring for the older adult, question if the drug is right for this patient; if the dose is correct or if it has been adjusted to start at a lower dose; if the patient has renal or kidney dysfunctions that may further affect dosing; and if the patient has been thoroughly assessed for swallowing, cognitive, and physical disorders [22]. Remember that confusion may be an early sign of an adverse drug event. Health care providers can be the first line of defense in reducing adverse medication events in the older adult. Copyright © 2002 by Elsevier Science (USA).
Journal Subset: Core Nursing; Nursing; Peer Reviewed; USA
Special Interest: Critical Care
ISSN: 0899-5885
MEDLINE Info: MEDLINE PMID: 12400634. NLM Serial ID: SR0063187. NLM UID: 8912620.
Publisher Info: URL: http://www.cinahl.com/cgi-bin/refsvc?jid=509
Entry Date: 20030103
Accession Number: 2003011660
Database: CINAHL
Persistent Link to this Article:
View Links:
Check library catalog for title  Order item from UNCW ILLiad  

This is what you will see when you click on the linked article title.

Definition of Selected CINAHL Fields

The following table explains the contents of some of the fields in a CINAHL record's detailed display. These field will give you all the information you will in order to search the Library Catalog to see if Randall library has the item you are looking for.

Field Name Description
Title The title of the article, pamphlet, or book; also individual pamphlet or book chapter titles.
Author(s) Personal author(s) name entered in format last name followed by one or more initials
Source Source information includes the full journal title, journal title abbreviation, date of publication, volume/issue, pagination, and number of references when available.
Publication Type Identification terms that describe the article type such as Journal Article, Bibliography, Book, etc.
Language Language article, book chapter and etc. is written in.
Major Subjects: Major core concept or subject of the item.
Minor Subjects: Minor concepts or subjects of the item.
Abstract An English-language synopsis, or author abstract of the source document.
Journal Subset Subsets of broad journal and pamphlet categories.
CINAHL Subject Headings

The CINAHL Subject Headings are a controlled vocabulary thesaurus that can assists you more effectively searching the CINAHL database. Each bibliographic reference in the database is associated with a set of subject terms that are assigned to describe the content of an article, listed in the CINAHL Heading field of each record. There are more than 10,600 main subject headings as well as thousands of cross-references that assist in finding the most appropriate subject heading. CINAHL accepts the U.S. National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) as the standard vocabulary for disease, drug, anatomical, and physiological concepts. 
You can search the CINAHL subject headings by clicking on the button located at the top of the search screen.

  1. How do I search for "Peer Reviewed" journal articles?
    Using the Advanced Search screen, simply look at the lower portion of the screen for the Limit Your Results area.
    • To limit results to Journal Articles, click on the down arrow in the Publication Type box and choose "journal article".
    • To limit results to "Peer Reviewed", click on the down arrow in the Journal Subset box and choose "peer review".
  2. How do I search for more then one "Publication Type"?
    Choose the Advanced Search option located in the green bar above the Find box.
    • In the Limit Your Results: section, Publication Type will be on the right side. Press the Ctrl button on your keyboard when you click on your choices and you will be about to search Multiple types.The same can be done for any of the Limiters listed.
    • OR in Basic search mode you can choose one limiter in the box and then in the FIND: box add to your search PT journal article or PT research and etc. PT stands for Publication Type.
      Search example: diabetes and rural and diabetes and rural and (communities or populations)
      and PT journal article.
  3. How do I cite an Full Text Article using APA format?
    Basic reference format:
    Author (date of original source). Article title. Original source of article, page numbers. (Retrieved [month day, year,] from [source] database ([name of database], [item no. -if applicable]) on the World Wide Web: Electronic Address, or URL, of the source.

    For example:
    Tator, C., Carson, J. D., & Cushman, R. (2000) Hockey injuries of the spine in Canada, 1966 - 1996. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 162(6), 787+. Retrieved November 15, 2000, from EBSCOhost database (Academic Search Elite) on the World Wide Web: http://search.epnet.com.
  4. What if Randall Library does not have an item I want?
    If Randall Library doesn't own the item you are look for, you can request that item via Interlibrary Loan for no charge. From the Library homepage, choose Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery link under Library Services. (If you have not already set up an account, scroll to the bottom of the screen to set up an account.) Your CINAHL citation will provide you will all the necessary information needed to submit a request. NOTE: Generally, ILL requests take about 2 weeks to arrive, so plan accordingly.
  5. Is there a print version of the CINAHL index?
    YES, it's location is: Index Collection RT41 .C96. The print version covers the literature from 1977 until 1981.
  • CINAHL with Full Text
Page maintained by: 
Anne Pemberton