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NURS 313R: Nursing Care of the Adult-Medical Surgical Patient: Database Searching Tips

Nursing Care of the Adult Medical-Surgical Patient


CINAHL Searching Tips

  • In the basic search the Publication Type limiter “Research” may be very useful, as well as the option to limit to peer-reviewed 
  • There is a Publication Type limiter “research instrument,” but it doesn’t pull up many results.
  • Health sciences students are often told to limit their results to the last five years so the Published Date limiter feature will be useful.   
  • In advanced search mode you can limit by Age Groups and to the Special Interest “evidence-based practice” (use with caution – it means the article is about evidence based practice). Faculty especially might be interested in the “first author is nurse” limiter.   
  • If you are having a problem pulling up a link to an article that has been posted on WebCampus, it might be that the link does not have the EZ Proxy prefix. An example of a link with the prefix is
    • In EBSCOhost databases such as CINAHL you can find the correct URL by clicking on “permalink” on the right side of the page with the full record
    • The EZ proxy prefix is



PubMed Searching Tips 

  • The journal references that are in PubMed are also in Scopus, which is easier to search. But, many faculty tell their students to search PubMed, and you can do a more complex search in PubMed.
  • PubMed is free, and indexed on Google—I always remind people that they have to go into PubMed through the library in order to have access to our subscriptions.
  • You can do complex searches on PubMed, including subject terms (MESH) and limit your results by things such as article type, age group, species, etc.
  • One reason that researchers often don’t like PubMed is that it is not easy to tell if we have access to the full text.  From the search results you have to click on the title of the article and go to the page with the abstract in order to see the “UNLV find text” link
  • The “UNLV find text” link doesn’t seem to always work from PubMed, especially from off-campus – if it isn't working check the list of A-Z list of journal titles or even try to get the article from Google Scholar (
  • I'm often asked if everything in PubMed is peer-reviewed and the answer is no. If it is a journal article you can be pretty sure it is scholarly, but of course you have to look at it to know for certain. But there are other types of publications in there that are not peer-reviewed.
  • You CAN export references from PubMed to RefWorks.  It’s not simple, but it is possible. Mark the citation and send it to “citation manager” – then select Create file, save the file to your desktop, open RefWorks, and import it there (using the Plus sign (+) and Import references option), upload the reference into your RefWorks library.



Resources for Evidence-Based Practice Literature

The Cochrane Library
What is it? The Cochrane Library is a collection of evidence-based medicine databases, providing clinicians reliable and current information on the effects of interventions in health care.
Highlights: The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews are the gold standard of medical literature, providing comprehensive research analyses on a variety of medical treatments; DARE critiques other systematic reviews in a structured abstract format; CENTRAL provides a repository of clinical trial citations.
EBP: The Cochrane Collaboration is world renowned for their quality evidence-based publications.

Guideline Central (
What is it? Guideline Central is a fee based provider of quick reference pocket guidelines. There is an effort by Guideline Central to create a new non-profit guideline repository to fill the gap for guidelines created by the closing of the National Guidelines Clearinghouse. 

Highlights: Database of guidelines for physicians, nurses and other healthcare practitioners.
EBP: Search for guidelines for treatment, intervention, measures and tools.

NOTE: National Guideline Clearinghouse shut down July 2018 the current alternative is Guideline Central

PubMed Clinical Queries
What is it? Clinical Queries is designed to locate articles in PubMed with higher levels of evidence.
Highlights: Use Clinical Queries to search by study type (etiology, diagnosis, therapy, prognosis or clinical prediction guides) or search for systematic reviews, evidence-based practice guidelines and meta-analyses.
EBP: Clinical trials, meta-analyses and practice guidelines are labeled, but other evidence levels must be self-identified.

PubMed Main Search Page 
What is it? This database contains over 19 million citations for biomedical literature. Apply limits for publication types with higher levels of evidence.
Highlights: Gives access to most current medical research including yet to be published materials. Set up an NCBI account to set up alerts and save searches.
EBP: Limit publication types to meta-analyis, randomized-controlled trials, etc.

What is it? 
This search enging was developed by the University of Texas Health Sciences Center as a way to quickly search and filter health sciences literature.
Highlights: SUMSearch 2 simultaneously searches for studies (origina studies and systematic reviews), and practice guidelines. Searches for studies are revised up to 6 times as needed, while guidelines may be revised once.
EBP: Uses the Haynes filters in addition to journal lists from McMaster to search multiple resources.

TRIP Database
What is it?  TRIP (Turning Research into Practice) locates the highest possible evidence with which to inform clinical decisions, using the principles of evidence based medicine.
Highlights:  Provides integrated results from a variety of clinical resources.
EBP: Results include evidence-based synopses, systematic reviews, guidelines and PubMed.

What is it? A point of care tool written and edited by a global community of 4,800 physicians. Recommendations are often graded in terms of supporting evidence.
Highlights: Contains over 9,000 topics in 19 specialties.
EBP: Provides a grading system for recommendations that shows whether the recommendation is weak or strong and whether or not there is evidence to support the recommendation.

Source: University of Iowa Hardin Library, updated summer 2019 

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