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CINAHL: Basic search


CINAHL stands for the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature. It covers nursing science, medicine, biomedicine, occupational therapy and public health sciences. The University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences have access to CINAHL with full text.  CINAHL with Full Text includes articles from over 610 journals.


Search techniques and search strings


  • Truncation: In CINAHL, the asterisk (*) represents any group of characters, including no character. Use it at the end of the root of your term. E.g. disease* searches for disease, diseases, diseased.
  • Boolean operators OR, AND and NOT can be used to combine search terms

AND = finds results with all of your search terms.  AND narrows your search (i.e., get fewer citations).

OR = finds results with any of your search terms.  OR broadens your search (i.e., get more citations).

NOT = eliminates items that contain the specified term.  NOT narrows your search (i.e., get fewer citations).

  • Proximity operator is used when the search terms need to be within a certain distance from each other. It defines how many words there can be between two words. E.g. in search string (distan* OR online OR virtual* OR remote*) N3 (educat* OR learn* OR teach*) N3 defines that there can be three words in maximum between the search terms.
  • Words written sequentially are located within five words apart. Word order can be inverted. E.g. nursing home = home nursing, nursing in patient's home etc.
  • Phrase search: By using quotation marks (phrase search) you can search with the combination of two or more words. The words written inside the quotation marks will appear in that order in the search results. E.g. "nursing home resident" doesn't search for residents of a nursing home. 


Advanced Search

  • There are several fields in use. Fields can be connected with the AND, OR, NOT. Operators can be selected from the drop-down menu.
  • Within the search field, words can also be combined with the AND, OR, NOT operators.
  • Use the plus button if you want to add more boxes.
  • Enter your search terms in the boxes at the top of the screen (the database will suggest terms as you start typing). Add synonyms or truncation symbol if necessary.
  • It is possible to choose in which fields the search terms must be found. The most commonly used fields are Title (TI), Abstract (AB) and Subject Headings (SU). If you select All Text (TX) the database will search the whole text of articles, so you are likely to get a lot of irrelevant results. If you don't select any field, keywords are by default targeted to titles, abstracts and subject headings. 


In the picture in CINAHL's advanced search, a following search has been performed. Cats OR dogs OR pets are written on the first search line. These terms have the default targeting (select a field: title, summary and keywords). In the second line, the phrase "nursing home" is combined to the first line using the AND operator. Thise search term is targeted to the title. "Title" is selected from the drop-down menu.


CINAHL (University of Oulu)

CINAHL is accessible from any computer connected to the University / Oulu University Hospital (OYS) network. Outside the campus network you must log in with your University of Oulu user ID in order to access the database. 


CINAHL is accessible from any computer connected to the Oamk network. Outside the campus network you must log in with your Oamk user ID in order to access the database.

Finding full texts

Article full texts are not always linked to CINAHL. You can check the availability by clicking Find It icon   or clicking "Check Oula-Finna for availability". The Full text availability view shows a list of links to databases where the item can be found in full text.




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