CINAHL subject headings reflect the terminology used by nurses and allied health professionals.
Subject headings are a set of terms or phrases (known as controlled vocabulary) that classify materials. Essentially they identify and pull together under a common "umbrella" information about a given subject. Most online catalogs and databases use some form of subject headings, though they may also be called descriptors or keywords.
The set of controlled vocabulary used to index and search PubMed is called MeSH (MEdical Subject Headings). NLM indexers examine articles and assign the most specific MeSH heading(s) that appropriately describes the concept(s) discussed.
Indexers can also assign Subheadings to further describe a particular aspect of a MeSH concept (more information on this topic is in the next column.)
In addition to assigning MeSH terms that describe the topic of the article, the indexer provides terms that reflect:
The MeSH terms that reflect the major ideas of the article are marked with an asterisk (*).
Review vs. peer review vs. research
Subheadings are qualifiers used in conjunction with subject headings. There are 68 topical subheadings that can be linked to CINAHL subject headings. Examples of subheadings are: adverse effects, diagnosis, or prevention and control.
Not all subheadings can be used with all subject headings; for example, the subheading "/prevention and control" is meaningless linked to the subject heading NURSING PROTOCOLS.
AND is used to search for articles that discuss two or more subjects in the same article. AND narrows or focuses a search.
OR is used when searching synonyms or similar choices, such as aspirin or ibuprofen or NSAIDS. The results list will contain articles that discuss at least one of the subjects in the search.
Subject headings can also be restricted to the Major Concept of the article. Selecting Major Concept allows you to restrict your results to articles in which the subject heading is the main idea of the article.
MeSH subjects are organized by 16 main branches:
This example displays part of the hierarchy that includes the term, Face. Notice the narrower terms indented under the broader terms.
Click on the subject word (rather than the box next to the subject) to open the Tree view.