Searching for qualitative studies in CINAHL

Qualitative research can help to understand the human experience of health and illness, and is an important part of evidence-based healthcare. Qualitative research can use various methods, such as grounded theory, phenomenology, or focus groups.

However, it is not always easy to identify qualitative studies in the literature.

Work has been done to create search strategies to locate these studies in the CINAHL database (covering nursing and allied health) and these can help to reduce the potential number of references to review.

If you’re searching CINAHL using the NHS Healthcare Databases, this is an example strategy that can be copied and pasted into the search box:

exp ATTITUDE/ OR exp INTERVIEWS/ OR exp “QUALITATIVE STUDIES”/

Once the search is complete, carry out a search for your topic of interest, and then combine the searches together.

If you’re searching CINAHL using EBSCOHost (either via OmniSearch, or using Staffordshire University resources), the strategy to use is:

(MH “Attitude+”) OR (MH “Interviews+”) OR (MH “Qualitative Studies+”)

Copy and paste the strategy into the search box and run the search. Once the search is complete, carry out a search for your topic of interest, and then combine the searches together (you’ll need to visit the search history to combine searches).

These searches are fairly ‘sensitive’ and will pick up most articles that are qualitative research, but will include some that are not. However, they will vastly reduce the number of non-qualitative research articles in your results and make it easier to find qualitative research.