Methodological search strategies for CINAHL and Medline

Area of ResearchTerms for searching CINAHLTerms for searching Medline
*These search strategies have been validated using handsearches of journals. See Haynes et al.2 Other search strategies have not been tested and will retrieve citations with a broad range of methodological quality.
Many searching platforms exist (please see part 1 of this editorial). You will need to check your searching system to “translate” designations such as publication type and index term into the proper searching form (eg, variations in punctuation).
“:” or “*” is used to retrieve alternate endings in various systems (eg, “random:” will retrieve random, randomly, randomized, and randomised in the OVID system).
“Textword” refers to words that appear in the titles and abstracts of articles.
“Explode” retrieves all the subdivisions of an index term (eg, “explode sports” retrieves citations on bicycling, swimming, baseball, basketball, etc).
“Publication type” is a term assigned by database indexers to designate the form of the citation (eg, clinical trial, practice guideline).
Treatment (interventions) Explode clinical trials (index term) OR random: (textword) OR research (publication type)*Clinical trial (publication type) OR random: (textword) OR double-blind method (index word) OR placebo: (textword)
Diagnosis (screening and assessment) Explode diagnosis (index term) *Explode sensitivity and specificity (index term) OR sensitivit: (textword) OR specificit: (textword) OR diagnosis (subheading exploded) OR diagnostic use (subheading exploded)
Prognosis Disease progression (index term) OR explode prospective studies (index term) OR explode mortality (index term) OR explode morbidity (index term) OR time factors (index term) OR explode prognosis (index term) OR prognosis (textword)*Incidence (textword) OR explode mortality (index word) OR follow-up studies (index word) OR prognosis: (textword) OR predict: (textword) OR course: (textword)
Causation Explode prospective studies (index term) OR explode case-control studies (index term) OR explode risk factors (index term) OR risk: (textword)*Explode cohort studies (index word) OR explode risk (index word) OR odds ratio: (textword) OR relative risk: (textword) OR case-control (textword)
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses5 Use these strategies in each of the categories above for retrieval of systematic reviewsMeta-analysis (index term) OR meta-analysis (textword) OR metaanalysis (textword) OR MEDLINE (textword) AND [review (publication type) OR systematic review (textword)]Meta-analysis (publication type) OR meta-analysis (index term) OR meta-analysis (textword) OR metaanalysis (textword) OR systematic review: (textword) OR [MEDLINE (textword) AND review (publication type)]
Qualitative studiesQualitative studies (index word) OR ethnographic research (index word) OR ethnonursing research (index term) OR phenomenological research (index term) OR focus groups (index term) OR grounded theory (index term)Nursing methodology research (index term) OR qualitative research (textword) OR grounded theory (textword) OR ethnograph: (textword)