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Searching CINAHL

Searching with Keywords

Keyword searching is where you choose relevant synonyms for your search terms, and search for those words within different fields, such as the title or abstract.

  • The Scope notes from your subject heading may be a helpful source of synonyms, as well as a thesaurus. See our Search Tips Guide for more information and tips on keyword searching.

Example search topic: Palliative care of terminally ill patients with melanoma.


For the Melanoma search term, synonyms we could include are: melanoma*, “skin cancer*”, “cancer of the skin”, “skin neoplasm*”, “neoplasm* of the skin”, “skin carcinoma*”, “carcinoma* of the skin”, melanotic, “malignant lentigo”, “lentigo maligna”.


Type your chosen keywords into the search box, and select a field to search in using the Select a Field drop down menu:

CINAHL - Keyword search
  • Select a Field (optional) will search for your keywords in the title, abstract and subject fields (If you want to use this option, make sure Suggest Subject Terms checkbox option is unticked.)
  • TX All Text is a broader search that will find references where your keywords appear in any of a number of places, such as: title, abstract, subject, journal name, and so on.
  • TI Title will find references with your keywords in the title only. This is a specific search that will give you fewer results, but higher relevance. If you made your subject heading a ‘major concept’, try searching for related keywords in the title.

Click the Search button:

Repeat this process for each of your concepts.

Example search topic: Palliative care of terminally ill patients with melanoma.


For our search example, we would also search for subject headings and keywords on the palliative care concept.


Once you have searched for all of your concepts, it is time to combine your search terms