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Nursing and Public Health: CINAHL & Medline


  Click here to search

Insert your search terms in separate boxes, unless it is a phrase.  You can add another search box by clicking the plus sign +

Use the asterisk * for truncation.  Use infectio* to get results for infection, infections, & infectious with one search.

Think creatively!  Think of more, related search terms.


Click an article title to find more possible search terms.

catheter care, adverse effect*, catheter removal, complication*, peripherally inserted central catheter*

Limit by date (for example, only the most current 5 years).

Option #1 - On beginning search page, scroll down and fill in the PUBLISHED DATE boxes

CINAHL search interface

CINAHL date limiter

Option #2 - On the left side of the SEARCH RESULTS page, slide the PUBLICATION DATE bar

CINAHL search terms

Research Articles?

One way to find RESEARCH ARTICLES/RESEARCH STUDIES -- on the beginning search page, scroll down to the limiter PUBLICATION TYPE and select RESEARCH

There are other choices such as Case Studies, Clinical Trial, Meta Analysis, Meta Synthesis, Randomized Controlled Trial, and Research Instrument

For more in-depth help, please look at the "NURS 3325 Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing" Research Guide or contact me by email or phone.

CINAHL search interface

Publication type limiters


Full-Text & Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed)?

On beginning search page, scroll down and check the limiter boxes for FULL TEXT and SCHOLARLY (PEER-REVIEWED)

Article written by a NURSE?

On beginning search page, scroll down and check the limiter boxes for ANY AUTHOR IS NURSE or FIRST AUTHOR IS NURSE

CINAHL is the ONLY database with this limiter!

CINAHL Limiters

Nurse as author limiters

Medline and PubMed


MEDLINE is produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). It includes abstracts to publications from Index Medicus, the International Nursing Index and the Index to Dental Literature; additional table of contents information for more titles provided by the British Library Document Supply Center.

MEDLINE is a premier medical database available either free or via EBSCOhost. These different interfaces have advantages and disadvantages. The EBSCOhost interface contains some full text journal articles. Years of coverage may vary, especially for individual journal titles. For example, just because a database includes SOME journal titles back to the 1940s does not mean it includes all titles back that far.


PubMed, a free service of the National Library of Medicine, provides access to over 23 million citations for biomedical literature from health and life science journals, and online books via interface access to many individual life science databases and websites, including MEDLINE

The PubMed search system defaults to the PubMed database of bibliographic information, which is drawn primarily from MEDLINE and PREMEDLINE. The MEDLINE file contains bibliographic citations and author abstracts from approximately 3,900 current biomedical journals published in the United States and 70 foreign countries. The PREMEDLINE database includes basic citation information and abstracts created prior to the full, completed records are prepared and added to MEDLINE. New records are added to PREMEDLINE daily.

In addition, for participating journals that are indexed selectively for MEDLINE, PubMed includes all article records from that journal, not only those that are included in MEDLINE content. Finally, PubMed is part of the NCBI's Entrez system which provides access to many microbiology databases. Coverage extends from 1966 to date. Selected content goes back to the late 1940s.

Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. If a publisher has a website that offers full text of its journals, PubMed provides links to that site.

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus, consists of terms (descriptors) from the Thesaurus in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity.

Many databases contain a thesaurus. This is a directory of assigned Subject Headings. Searching for a subject heading instead of a word that happens to appear anywhere in a record can reduce the number of irrelevant records retrieved from your search. Some databases, like MEDLINE, will automatically include synonyms in the search, whether you want them to appear or not, so check the rules. This is called thesaurus mapping.


Finds cancer and neoplasm when thesaurus mapping occurs in MEDLINE.

        "heart attack"              

Myocardial Infarction is searched as a MeSH term in MEDLINE, in addition to “heart attack” being searched as text words.

Most databases assign subject categories in a hierarchy from general to specific. Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in the MEDLINE database are hierarchical. 

In other words, MeSH terms describe what an article is about and are used to label all articles on a topic even if different authors use different words for the same concept (such as cancer vs. neoplasm vs. tumor).

To Explode a Subject Heading in a search includes all subject headings subordinate to the Subject Search Term. A search for the following term in MEDLINE retrieves the following results.  

Diabetes Mellitus                          matches records with Diabetes Mellitus as a subject heading

Diabetes Mellitus (Exploded)     matches records with Diabetes Mellitus; Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2; & Diabetes, Gestational as subject headings

Subject headings are VERY important in searching health science databases. CINAHL and MEDLINE are specifically designed to be searched using the subject headings.              

  • Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases
    • Metabolic Diseases
      • Glucose Metabolism Disorders
        • Glycosuria
          • Glycosuria, Renal
        • Hyperglycemia
        • Hyperinsulinism
        • Diabetes Mellitus
          • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental
          • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
          • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
          • Diabetes, Gestational

Host Web


(any number)


(one character)




within, in order



Always use

Always use

(All of these)


 AND [default]

(Any of these)






(x is any

within, in order

near, any order


limit to
full text?



limit to



Basic Searching

If you're just looking to browse articles on your topic without much concern for specificity, you may want to use the Basic Search function, which is on the PubMed homepage. When you arrive at PubMed, the homepage will look like this:

PubMed Homepage screenshot

Type in your keyword(s) into the search box at the top of the page. As you start typing, a dropdown menu will appear with suggested terms. You can either click on a term that is relevant, or type out what you'd like to search for in full. 

Hit Enter on your keyboard, or click the blue Search button to the right to see your results.

Advanced Searching

In advanced searching, you are given more ability to pinpoint exactly the kinds of articles you would like to see in your results.

To get to Advanced Searching, click on the link directly below the search box at the top of that page that says "Advanced". This is what the advanced search page looks like:

PubMed Advanced Search screenshot

In order to search by author’s nametitlesubject term, etc., use the dropdown menu by the search box to select the appropriate field.

  • If you do not choose an option from this menu, the database will automatically search your term in all the article citation fields (including abstract)

  • To broaden or narrow your search results, use the ‘AND’ dropdown menus before the 2nd text box

    • There will be three options: AND (which is automatically chosen), OR, & NOT

    • AND: will only display results that include both/all the search terms

    • OR: will display all results with either/any of the search terms

    • NOT: will display results with the previous search terms, but will leave out results that include the following search term

  • If you need more than the two provided text boxes for search terms, click the plus button (directly to the right of the search term box, outlined in red above) and use as normal

  • PubMed also tries to be helpful! If you have selected a search option other than "All Fields", once you start typing in the box, a list of suggested terms will appear. You can either click on the one that matches yours, or type in your own.

    • Note: the suggested terms will only be relevant to that particular selection

  • Type your search term in the box, then click "Show Index", to see subject terms. These will be listed alphabetically

    • Note: you CAN click "Show Index" before you've typed anything in, but it will begin at the beginning of the alphabet and you'll have to scroll through pages and pages of numbers before you even get to "a"

Once you're ready to search, click the orange/brown "Search" button below the search terms!


Once you've done a search, your screen will look like this:

PubMed Results screenshot


Search filters allow you to modify your results. Helpful filters include Publication Dates, and Article Type.

  • To undo a filter, click the little "clear" link next to the category you'd like to clear.
  • If you don't see a filter you'd like to use, click on "Show Additional Filters" at the bottom of the column. A box will appear that looks like this:

PubMed Additional filters screenshot

  • Click the checkboxes next to the options you'd like to see displayed

  • Click "Show"

  • The page will refresh, and your selection will appear on the left side with the others

  • Click on the option within that filter you'd like to use

  • If you don't see the option you'd like to use within a particular filter (for example: if you want to see newspaper articles, but that isn't an option listed under "Article Types")

    • Under the filter title, click on "Customize..."

    • Select the options you'd like to use

    • Click "Show"

    • The page will refresh and your selections will appear

    • Then click on the options you'd like to use again - the page will refresh showing only those articles that fit the criteria you just selected.

NOTE: If you run another search, these filters will stay on until you click "Clear" or end your session.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) provides analysis and retrieval resources that include the GeneBank, Entrez, MyNCBI, PubMed, Entrez Gene, BLAST, BLAST Link (BLink), Electronic PCR, UniGene, HomoloGene, ProtEST, Cancer Chromosomes, Entrez Genomes, among many others.

Finding Nursing Journals Only

  • Narrow to nursing related journals by clicking on Topic-Specific Queries under PubMed Tools:

PubMed homepage screenshot


  • Scroll all the way to the bottom and select “Nursing Journals”:

PubMed select nursing journals screenshot

  • You'll be brought back to the PubMed homepage
  • Select Advanced Search and build a similar keyword search as used in CINAHL and Proquest Nursing.
  • If results include too many non-nursing journals, can narrow to nursing journals in Advanced search by typing in Nurses, Nurse, or Nursing and selecting Journal in the drop down.


Other Searching Tips

  • Asterisks (*) for truncation don’t work in PubMed
  • Go back to the PubMed home page to identify appropriate MeSH headings to use by clicking on MeSH database under More Resources (right of the screen)
    • Select words and add them to a search builder
    • This is also good for identifying other words to use in a keyword search.
  • Take advantage of filters and other search features on the left and right of the screen
  • Narrow date range after you’ve conducted a search and are on the results screen to 5 or 10 years or a custom range.