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Evidence-Based Practice Research: CINAHL Search Help

Introduction

The CINAHL Plus with Full Text database is an unfiltered database containing over 700 nursing and allied health related journals. While the database itself is unfiltered, you can still use it to find evidence-based practice resources, including systematic reviews. You can also use it to find unfiltered resources, including randomized controlled trials, case studies, and other primary research studies.

On this page you will learn how to limit your results in CINAHL to:

  • systematic reviews
  • randomized controlled trials
  • cohort studies
  • case studies
  • other document types

Set up your search

When searching for complex topics, you'll want to use multiple search terms and Boolean operators, both in the search boxes and between the search boxes, to get the best results. To learn more about Boolean operators, please see this Quick Answer:

 

Here is an example of how to put together a complex search in CINAHL:

  1. On the Library homepage, go to the Subject Resources box.
     


     

  2. Click on Select a subject and choose: Nursing.
  3. Click on the Evidence based & clinical resources section and choose CINAHL Plus with Full Text database.
     

    Note: If you have not already logged in to the Library databases, you will be prompted to log in with your myWalden Portal user name and password.

  4. Once you are in the database, use the search boxes to enter your keywords. For example, in the first search box, enter:
     

    Neonatal OR NICU

     

    Note: You can use OR to link together your synonyms, or related words, in a search box, allowing the database to search more broadly.

  5. In the second search box enter:
     

    Handwashing OR "Hand Washing" OR "Hand Rubs" OR "Hand Disinfection"

     

    Note: Putting quotation marks around phrases tells the database to search for these words as a phrase and not as individual words.

  6. In the third search box enter:
     

    "Infection Control" OR "Cross Infection"

     

 

Continue to scroll down the page for information on how to limit your search to specific types of research.

Systematic reviews

CINAHL contains many systematic reviews published in journals.

Once you have set up your search, here is how you can limit your results to only systematic reviews in CINAHL:

  1. Scroll down the page below the search boxes until you find the Publication Type box.
  2. In the Publication Type box select Systematic Review by finding it in the list and clicking on it (it will then be highlighted).
     

      .
  3. Click on the Search button to run your search.

Randomized controlled trials

Randomized controlled trials are the studies commonly used to support systematic reviews and are a high level of evidence. They are usually one of the easiest study types to find in any nursing or medical database.

Once you have set up your search, here is how you can limit your results to only randomized controlled trials:

  1. Scroll down the page below the search boxes until you see Randomized Controlled Trials.
  2. Click in the check box below Randomized Controlled Trials.
     

     
  3. Then click on the Search button to run your search. 

Cohort studies

Cohort studies are a type of longitudinal study, or observational study, that analyze risk factors by following groups that share a common characteristic or experience over time. Since these studies have a long-term component, they promote a better quality of evidence than a shorter study. There are also fewer of them, and they can be harder to find.

Here is an example of a search for a cohort study in CINAHL:

  1. Set up your search. For example, in the first search box you could enter:
     

    Neonatal

  2. In the second search box, enter any additional keywords. For example, you could enter:
     

    "Infection Control"

     

    Note: Putting quotation marks around phrases tells the database to search for these words as a phrase and not as individual words.

  3. In the third search box enter:
     

    "Cohort Study"

     

    z


     
  4. Then click on the Search button to run your search.

Case studies

A case study, or case report, is a research method involving a detailed investigation of a single individual or a single organized group. Case studies may be prospective (in which criteria are established and cases fitting the criteria are included as they become available) or retrospective (in which criteria are established and cases are selected from historical records for inclusion in the study).

Once you have set up your search, here is how you can limit your results to only case studies:

  1. Scroll down the page below the search boxes until you find the Publication Type box.
  2. In the Publication Type box select Case Study by finding it in the list and clicking on it (it will then be highlighted).
     

      .
  3. Click on the Search button to run your search.

Other filters in CINAHL

CINAHL Plus with Full Text offers a number of filters or limiters that can help you find only specific types of studies.

Scroll down the page below the search boxes to locate these filters or limiters. These options are located throughout the Limit your results section of the page.

Clinical Queries

This filter can be used find articles that are clinically-sound. The five options are: 

  • Therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Review
  • Qualitative
  • Causation (Etiology)

To get the most results, select all three sub-divisions: High Sensitivity, High Specificity, and Best Balance.

Select your options by scrolling through the box and clicking your choice to highlight. Hold down the Ctrl key to select multiple options.

 

Publication Types

This limiter box allows you to select specific article types. We've already shown how to use this limiter for systematic reviews and case studies; other useful publication types for evidence-based practice include Clinical Trial and Meta Analysis.

Select an option by finding it in the list and clicking on it (it will then be highlighted).

 

Research Article

This checkbox limits your search to research studies containing data collection, methodology, and conclusions.

Click in the check box below Research Article to select this option.

 

Evidence-Based Practice

Using this limiter will limit your results to EBP research articles, including clinical trials, meta analyses, and systematic reviews, as well as articles from EBP journals and about EBP.

Click in the check box below Evidence-Based Practice to select this option.

Note: With this limiter you will need to evaluate your results to determine what type of evidence each article contains.