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CINAHL Plus with Full Text (EBSCO): CINAHL Headings

CINAHL Tutorial- Mesh/Subject Headings

What are CINAHL Headings?

CINAHL Headings is a controlled vocabulary of subject terms.  It is like using MESH in PubMed or Medline. Using CINAHL Headings when searching saves you, the searcher, time and effort by bringing together multiple ways to refer to a disease, condition, anatomical part, or concept under a single term.

For example, using the CINAHL heading "Stroke" will also get articles on cerebral vascular accident(s), cerebrovascular accident(s), CVA(s), and strokes.

Click on the CINAHL Headings button at the top of the CINAHL display to begin incorporating subject terms in your search.

CINAHL headings button

Scope Notes

You can always click on the speech bubble to the right of a CINAHL heading to read the definition for that term.

Screenshot CINAHL Headings definition example

Major Concept

"Major Concept" narrows your search and gets you less results. Selecting "Major Concept" retrieves citations for articles and publications where the CINAHL Heading is a main focus.

CINAHL typically assign three to four major concept headings to each publication.

CINAHL headings, major concept


Subheadings narrow your search and gets you less results. Subheadings allow you to indicate specific aspects of the CINAHL heading that are of interest. For example: the economic aspects of patient safety.

CINAHL subheadings