GPC Libraries -- Clarkston Library (JCLRC)
Step by Step with MeSH or CINAHL Subject Headings

Step by Step with MeSH or CINAHL Subject Headings

MeSH or CINAHL subject headings paired with subheadings or with each other provide the incredibly powerful access to EbscoHost Medline and CINAHL's vast storehouses of articles. Searching with these databases' subject headings at first feels like a lot of work, but the quality of your articles makes it more than worth the trouble.

1. Click MeSH or CINAHL Headings at the top of the window.

Ready to go to search MeSH headings

2. Unless you know the exact wording for your subject, leave the Relevancy Ranked button filled in.

Leave the Relevance Rank filled in

3. Type in your subject and click Browse. If you are TOTALLY UNSATISFIED with your results, scroll down and click the small Browse Additional Terms link.

4. Examine the list of subjects. If the database asks you to use different words, click on the new name it gives you. There are often several terms for the same subject. Medline and CINAHL have chosen one as the official name.

5. When you have the right subject, check off the box to its left. You can also make that term a Major Concept by clicking the Major Concept Box to the right of your term. You can click the Explode Box for some subjects to include narrower topics that are a part of your subject.

Selecting a subject heading


6.  Medline and CINAHL now give you a list of subheadings. These subheadings are medical jargon. To learn more about what each subheading means, click on the comic balloon to the subheading's right.

7. Choose one or more subheadings by checking the boxes to their left.

 Click the large, emerald green Search Database button.

The emerald green search button

Choosing a subheading

9. You can restrict your results to Full Text and recent dates with the facet box on the left of the results window.

Combining two MeSH/CINAHL Subject Headings

1. First follow Steps 1 through 5 above, and scroll down the page to click the small Browse Additional Terms link.

2. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 from the first part of this handout for your second subject heading.


Putting a two topic search together 3. On the right side of your screen, fill in the circle next to the AND.

4. Click the red box with the X to remove any unwanted searches.

5. Click the emerald green Search button.