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Finding Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences

CINAHL

CINAHL is a database of nursing and allied health literature. To search using keywords, combine your topic search with qualitative keywords.

To search using qualitative subject headings:

  • Perform a search for your topic keywords
  • Tick the Suggest Subject Terms option which appears above the search boxes 
  • Enter the qualitative term (e.g. qualitative research) in the search box and click Search

  • CINAHL will suggest relevant subject headings based on the keyword you entered
  • Tick the box next to the subject heading/s (e.g. Qualitative studies) you wish to use
  • Tick Explode to include narrower terms for the subject heading in your search
  • Click Search Database

  • Repeat for other qualitative subject headings. Once all have been searched for, tick the boxes next to the search sets and select Search with AND (different keywords) or Search with OR (similar terms) to combine

Consider some of the following CINAHL Subject Headings for your search:

  • Qualitative Studies (Explode to include: Action Research, Ethnographic Research, Ethnological Research, Grounded Theory, Naturalistic Inquiry & Phenomenological Research); Focus Groups; Narratives; Interviews (Explode to include Semi-Structured Interview, Structured Interview & Unstructured Interview); Descriptive Research; Diaries; Observational Methods (Explode to include Nonparticipant Observation, Participant Observation, Structured Categories & Unstructured Categories); Life Experiences; Multimethod Studies.

Ovid databases (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO)

To search using qualitative subject headings in the Ovid databases (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO etc.):

  • Log in to the database and select the Advanced Search option
  • Perform a search for your topic
  • Tick Map Term to Subject Heading 
  • Enter the qualitative term (e.g. qualitative research) in the search box and click Search

  • The database will suggest relevant subject headings based on the term you entered
  • Tick the box next to the subject heading or headings (e.g. Qualitative Research) you wish to use
  • Tick Explode to include narrower terms for the subject heading in your search
  • Click Continue

  • Repeat for other qualitative subject headings. Once all have been searched for, tick the boxes next to the search sets and Combine with: AND (different keywords) or OR (similar terms) to run your search

Consider some of the following subject headings for your search:

Qualitative Research (Explode to include Hermeneutics); Empirical ResearchGrounded TheoryInterviewInterviews as TopicFocus GroupsNarrationAnecdotes as TopicPersonal NarrativeDiaryHealth Knowledge, Attitudes, PracticeHealth Services Research.

Consider some of the following subject headings for your search:

Qualitative Research (Explode to include Hermeneutics); Empirical researchGrounded theoryPhenomenologyInterview (Explode to include Delphi study, Semi structured interview, Structured interview, Telephone interview & Unstructured interview); NarrativeAttitude to health.

Consider some of the following subject headings for your search:

Qualitative Methods (Explode to include Focus Group, Grounded Theory, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Narrative Analysis, Semi-Structured Interview & Thematic Analysis); InterviewsFocus Group InterviewNarrativesMixed Methods ResearchObservation MethodsPhenomenology.