Skip to Main Content
Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

EBM Literature Sources : 4. CINAHL


CINAHL is the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and contains data of the articles from nearly all English nursing journals and a large number of journals about applied health sciences, such as physiotherapy and speech therapy. More information about this database you can find here

Searching in CINAHL

In the boxes on this page you will find information about searching in CINAHL:

  • Searching in title/abstract
  • Searching with the help of keywords
  • Combining searches
  • Tips & Tricks

Searching in title/abstract

As a rule, CINAHL searches the entered terms in title, abstract and keywords. You can look up your terms in this way. To search only in title/abstract in CINAHL, you will have to enter search terms twice: there is one search box to search in the title and one to search in the abstract. Behind each search box you can select the field in question (‘TI Title’ or  ‘AB Abstract’) from the drop down menu  (1). Combine both search strings with OR  (2).


CINAHL - title/abstract

(Click on the picture to enlarge)

Please note: In each search box you can enter several synonyms, divided by OR. To search for a word group in CINAHL, you use double inverted commas, just like in PubMed (for instance  “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”). 

Searching by keywords

CINAHL subject headings are based on the MeSH headings, with additional specific nursing and allied health headings added as appropriate. Each year, the headings are updated and revised relative to terminology needed in these fields. In addition, new terms from MeSH may be added as well (source).

To search with MeSH terms in CINAHL, you enter the MeSH term(s) in a search box and select  ‘MH Exact Subject Heading‘ in the drop down menu.



(Click on the picture to enlarge)

Please note: In each search box you can enter several synonyms, divided by OR. To search by a word group in CINAHL  you use double inverted commas ( for instance  “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”). Searching by keywords is not case-sensitive.


You can also search yourself for keywords in CINAHL, to do so use the tab ‘CINAHL Headings’


CINAHL - Headings

(Click on the picture to enlarge)


Combining searches

In the screen  ‘Search History’ (1) you can combine searches by ticking the wanted searches (2) and to click on  ‘Search with AND’ or ‘Search with OR‘ (3). Complicated searches (for instance  (S1 OR S2) AND S3 ) need to be done in several steps.


CINAHL - combine

(Click on the picture to enlarge)

Tips & Tricks

  • CINAHL allows only 4 simultaneous users within Utrecht University. If you cannot access the database (for instance during a training), please proceed with another part of your work and try again later.