PI(C)O is an acronym that stands for: Patient (or Population), Intervention, Comparison, Outcome.
PI(C)O is a technique used in evidence based practice to:
Keyword terms can be single words or phrases.
Use quotes around all phrases to ensure that the phrase is searched instead of each word individually. (e.g. “public health”)
Consult CINAHL's thesaurus for ideas of additional terms to add to your search. You can access the thesaurus by clicking on the "CINAHL Headings" link on the top of the screen. See the video below on how to find CINAHL Headings & use effectively in a search.
More information on Finding & Using CINAHL Subject Headings
A comprehensive and systematic search of CINAHL includes both controlled vocabulary and keyword terms (i.e. free text, natural language, and synonyms).
Boolean operators are used to combine search terms. In CINAHL, you can use the operators AND, OR, and NOT.
Boolean operators MUST be used as upper case (AND, OR, NOT).
OR--use OR between similar keywords, like synonyms, acronyms, and variations in spelling within the same idea or concept
AND—use AND to link ideas and concepts where you want to see both ideas or concepts in your search results
NOT—used to exclude specific keywords from the search, however, you will want to use NOT with caution because you may end up missing something important.
Go to the “Advanced Search” page to combine searches (in CINAHL this is typically the default homepage). Your search history will be located above your results during your search session and can be viewed by clicking the “Search History” beneath the search boxes.
arthroplast* will return arthroplasty, arthroplasties, arthroplastic, arthroplastics, etc.
mobili* will return mobility, mobilization, mobilisation, mobilize, etc.
You can also use a ? as a wildcard to search for letter variants within a word (e.g. wom?n finds women and woman)
In CINAHL you can use truncation and phrase searching at the same time. e.g. "early childhood mobili*"
CINAHL allows for proximity searching through the use of two operators (N or W), along with a number to indicate the proximity of the words (up to 255 words).
N operator: The N operator stands for “Near Operator." Typing N5 would find two words within 5 words of each other without considering the order in which the words are entered. (therapy N5 sleep) looks for the word therapy within 5 words of sleep.
W operator: The W operator stands for "Within Operator." Typing W5 follows the order the words are typed. (therapy W5 sleep) would find “therapy for improved sleep,” but it would not find “sleep therapy”)
What is a Subject Heading?
Where do I find for Subject Headings?
Keywords and Subject Headings – there is a difference!
truncation & wildcard symbols: * ?
|Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT||
|Brackets ()||Organizes & prioritizes searches, and tells the search engine which search to do first. Use brackets around OR search terms: needle exchange program AND (HIV OR AIDS). NOTE: search engine boxes act as brackets.|
|Quotation marks ""||Keeps words together as a phrase: "patient education"|
Use to keep words or phrases near to one another.
N(#) articles that have teh two words appear within specified number regardless of order: determinant N3 health
W(#) articles that have the two words appearing within the specified number in the order that they are typed: capacity W5 building
Sometimes you need to expand your search beyond the basics. These databases may supplement the nursing research you have found in CINAHL. Check out subject guides such as psychology, social work or sociology for more ideas.