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CINAHL and EndNote Online: Tutorial


CINAHL is a key database for nursing and allied health.  Use CINAHL to locate and retrieve academic, peer-reviewed journal articles for your assignment or research.

  • Like Medline and other Ovid databases, CINAHL uses medical subject headings
  • However the screen layout is different as this is on the EBSCO platform
  • Note that the procedures below will be relevant to other databases on the EBSCO platform, such as AMED (Alternative Medicine), EconLit (useful for Health Economics), Sport Discus (Physiotherapy, Sport and Exercise Science).  

Use the search screen and suggested subject headings (Medical Headings) to build up a search line-by-line.  As well as these headings, you can also use freetext keywords which occur in the article or article description.

Then connect the search lines using Boolean logic:

  • AND to focus the search to items about all the lines selected, not just one or other term on its own
  • OR to bring alternatives together in a broader set

For more on Boolean logic and other literature searching techniques, see:

Panopto video from Academic Skills Centre, University of Birmingham: includes subtitles.

Sample search on CINAHL

"Community mental health nursing and postnatal depression"

  1. Locate and open CINAHL Plus via FindIt@Bham 
  2. On the main search page in CINAHL, k​eep box ticked for "Suggest Subject Headings"
  3. Enter your f​​​​irst term: Postnatal depression in the search bar and select Search on the right 
  4. On the following screen the subject heading is indicated "Depression, post-partum"

  5. Keep the tick in the "Subheadings" box (this allows for more results) and select Search Database

  6. Now enter the next term:  "Community mental health nursing": find and choose the matching subject heading

  7. On the main screen, connect the above two headings by using the "Search with AND" grey button: these should be clearly on the screen as S2, S1 to indicate each search line

  8. At each stage, the results are further down the screen

  9. To view the articles, use the "FindIt@Bham" link which leads to the full text (where available)

  10. You can introduce further terms as appropriate: alternative terms to connect with OR; different headings with AND

    • For example, find "Systematic Review" and use AND with the above to identify any systematic reviews about postpartum depression and community health nursing

Subject Headings: Explode

When you find a subject heading, there may be a tick-box available in the column headed Explode, to the right on the screen.  If you tick this box, it will include narrower or more precise subject headings - for examples, selecting Diabetes and the Explode box will include articles with the headings Diabetes Type I, Diabetes Type II. 


The following screenshots illustrate the above search example.

CINAHL search screen with postnatal depression in search box




CINAHL: Saving results and search history

Saving to Referencing Software (Endnote Online)

  1. In CINAHL (or other EBSCO database), select the blue folder icon on the right of each result in the lower half of the screen
  2. Then select Folder View to the right
  3. In Folder View, tick the boxes to select the records
  4. Then choose the Export function on the right and select 'Direct export in RIS format'
  5. Use the Save button on the left to generate an RIS file to download to Desktop (or other location)
  6. In Endnote Online, go to Collect and Import References
  7. Locate and choose the file
  8. For Import Option, open the full list and choose RefMan RIS and copy to favourites (unless you have done so already)
  9. Choose the group to send the file to, or leave as Unfiled and add to the preferred Group in your Endnote library





Save Search History

  1. Select Save searches / alerts above the search lines
  2. Then set up an individual account (free!) to name and save the search history
  3. The search history can be accessed and re-run later


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