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Nursing Resources

Library resources for nurses at DHMC and Dartmouth

Database Search Tips


Tips To Improve Your Search Examples and Considerations

Keyword Search

  • Keywords are any significant word or phrase you think of to describe your topic.


  • Google-like searching where the database finds results based on the terms you enter in search box.


  • Broadens search but also likely to retrieve some irrelevant results.

Subject Heading search

  • A targeted, specific way to search using a database's built-in standardized tags.


  • Controlled vocabulary subject headings function like a thesaurus and will take into consideration synonyms, abbreviations, and variations in spelling.


  • Typically retrieves fewer results than keyword searching, yet results are usually more relevant.  

Where to Find Subject Headings:

CINAHL Subject Headings (in the blue bar at the top of the CINAHL main page)


PubMed MeSH Headings (on main page, under Explore, click on MeSH Database)

Broaden your search


  • Use ORs within parentheses to combine synonyms or similar terms.  Retrieves records containing ANY of the listed terms.


  • Use * to Truncate roots of important words to find plurals and other word endings.



(woman OR girl OR female)



nurs* will find nurse, nurses, nursing


Narrow your search

  • Use AND to combine concepts. Requires ALL terms to appear in a record.


  • Use "double quotes" to find exact phrases.


  • Use Filters to limit your search to the most appropriate articles.


dementia AND falls


"fall risk assessment



Common Filter options:

- English language

- Publication Types

- Publication Dates