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Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing, Centre for Professional Nursing Education

Profile V2


This guide has been created to supplement Information Literacy and Evidence-Informed Practice Library instruction for students in NURS 270. 


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:

  • Frame answerable questions from a clinical scenario
  • Identify key elements in the question
  • Structure database searches

VIDEO: Using PICO to turn a clinical scenario into an effective search (3:55)

PI(C)O Templates

Nursing Library Tutorial Instructions

Nursing Library Tutorial Self-enroll Instructions (PDF)

Start here:

Certificate of Completion Instructions (PDF)

Quizzes: To achieve the Certificate of completion:

  • Complete the three modules and achieve 83% or greater across all three quizzes. 
  • You can take each quiz three times. The highest score will count towards the final score. 

Downloading the certificate video:


Library Session Resources

Tools for Defining Types of Research Articles

Basic definition of Nursing Research: Nursing research should involve nurse researchers, have implications for nursing, and is often (but not always) published in nursing journals. Nursing research contributes to Nursing Knowledge and advances the Discipline of Nursing.

Nursing Research

Here is a basic definition of Nursing Research:

Nursing research should involve nurse researchers, have implications for nursing, and is often (but not always) published in nursing journals. Nursing research contributes to Nursing Knowledge and advances the Discipline of Nursing.

What is a subject heading, and how will it help my search?


What is a Subject Heading?

  • Subject headings are assigned words or phrases that make a database easier to search.  It draws possible terms for a topic under one word or phrase, so a searcher does not have to guess at all of the words used to describe a topic.
  • Subject headings can also be called descriptors, thesaurus entries, subject terms or controlled vocabulary.
  • They may also have a proprietary name, such as MeSH (Medical Subject heading), CINAHL Headings, or LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Heading).

Where do I find for Subject Headings?

  • Almost every database has some kind of controlled vocabulary.  When searching in a database, look for a link on the home page that says thesaurus, headings or index. You can use this link to search for specific subject headings.
  • You can also find subject headings by performing a keyword search and then looking at the subject headings in the record of relevant articles.
  • Remember that subject headings can differ from database to database.  Don’t assume that what works great in one database will work well in another!

Keywords and Subject Headings – there is a difference!

  • Searching by subject headings is often the most effective and precise way to search a database.  However, there are times when a keyword search is useful, too.  Each type of searching is appropriate at different times and for different searches. 
  • You can also use Subject Headings in your keyword search! This is an effective way of expanding your search to retrieve more results pertaining to your topic. 

Learn more about finding & using subject headings with our Library video tutorials:

Topics include:



Subject Headings

Use the subject headings below for a more effective search in CINAHL, MedLine, or both! You can put them into a keyword search - with one idea per line - using OR. For example:
Line 1: cancer OR neoplasms OR cancer patients OR oncologic
Line 2: Stress psychological OR anxiety OR coping OR support psychosocial OR quality of life

Looking for articles about this idea?

Also experiment with these Subject Headings in CINAHL


child, preschool child, minors, infant*, child health, pediatric*, neonate, toddlers, teens*, adolescent, juvenile, youth,  *also use CINAHL limiters to limit by age* (related: child welfare, child development, child behaviour, child abuse, parent-child relations)

Chronic illness

chronic disease, critical illness, chronic disorders, chronic condition, recurrence, multiple chronic conditions, disease duration, quality of life *also try looking for headings that match the specific illness you are writing about*, mental disorders - chronic


Patient*, *also, use as many descriptive words as possible to describe your specific client, i.e. age, gender , cultural background, condition)* professional-client relations, nurse-patient relations, patient centered care, patient satisfaction


Cultural values, social attitudes, immigrants, ethnic groups, cultural diversity, ethnic backgrounds    *also can look for terms that describe the exact culture you want to research*, cultural competency, cultural competence, work environment, organizational culture, ethnicity, transcultural nursing. See: Cultural understanding


Cultural Understanding

cultural competence, cultural values, transcultural nursing, transcultural care, cultural diversity, cultural sensitivity, sociocultural factors, cross-cultural communication. See: Culture (above), (related: ethnological research)


depression, postpartum, dysthymic disorder, mental disorder*, affective disorders, affective symptoms, bipolar, depressive disorder, major depressive disorder, death depression scale, seasonal affective disorder  

Ethical implications

beneficence, conflict of interest, ethical decision making, duty to warn, ethics theory, medical ethics, ethical relationships, ethics-nursing,  patient rights, privacy and confidentiality, personal boundaries, informed consent, professional ethics, decision making, ethics organizational, decision-making, ethical issues, research ethics, code of ethics, morals, truth disclosure, medical ethical issues

Evidence-informed practice

Professional practice evidence-based, nursing practice evidence-based, medical practice evidence based, practice guidelines, theory-practice relationship, evidence-based, theory-based, professional practice research-based, evidence-based practice (MesH), evidence-informed nursing, evidence-based nursing, evidence-based medicine, clinical nursing research, evidence-based methods


family, extended family, family functioning, family relations, nuclear family, interpersonal relations, family coping, patient-family relations, professional-family relations


Bereavement, personal loss, depression, adaptation, mourning, burden, death, loss,

Lived Experiences   

 Life experiences, psychosocial aspects of illness, self-concept, symptom distress, coping, quality of life, life change events, psychosocial factors, psychological stress, social stress, physical stress, patient attitudes, hardiness, vulnerability, phenomenology, attitudes of health, attitude to health, attitudes to illness, nurse attitudes, patient satisfaction, narratives

Hope Optimism, adaptation, quality of life, attitude to health, coping, emotions, spirituality, patient attitudes, motivation, support-psychosocial, courage

Health promotion

Health promotion, health education, health teaching, public health, health policy, preventive health care, nutrition education, patient education, community health, community health nursing, lifestyle, attitude to health, health and welfare planning, health behaviour, health behavior, disease prevention, holistic approach, health practice, self care, health knowledge

Implications for the professional nurse

advance nursing practice, nurses-ethical issues, nurses-standards, nurses-trends, nursing practice, nursing role, nurses role, nurse-patient relations, nursing-profession, nursing care ( related: ethics-nursing, clinical competence, nurse attitudes, education-nursing, nursing knowledge, implications for nursing care, nursing practice-research based, burnout-professional


Nursing interventions, early intervention, crisis intervention, health education, *also try looking for headings that match the specific intervention you are writing about*, health promotion, early childhood intervention, counseling, support, psychosocial, intervention trials, intervention strategies, intervention programs, intervention treatment, intervention therapy

Nurse facilitation

nursing role, nursing practice, patient centered support, nursing outcomes, continuity of patient care, nursing knowledge, nursing assessment, nursing involvement, patient centered care, nursing intervention, nurse attitudes, community mental health nursing, psychiatric nursing, advanced nursing practice, nurse attitudes, nursing care, nurse assistance, nurse support, nurse-patient relations

Nursing model

Look for headings that match the specific model you are writing about.

Older Adult

Aging, gerontologic nursing, gerentologic care, aged, age factors, age specific care, gerentologic nursing, dementia, frail elderly, old age, geriatric, aging  *or* use CINAHL limiters to limit by age,* nursing home patients, seniors  

PsycINFO: geriatric patients, generational difference


pain, pain management, pain control, pain therapy, pain-disruptive effects, chronic pain, pain measurement, acute pain, nociceptive pain, discomfort, sensation disorder, visceral pain, pain threshold, psychosocial aspects of pain, physiological aspects of pain, pain scale, pain syndrome, pain psychological, pain etiology, pain diagnosis, pain physiopathology, pain prevention *also the site and circumstances of pain such as, postoperative pain, pelvic pain, treatment related pain, etc.*

Patient education

Patient education, patient compliance, teaching materials, teaching methods, patient discharge education, discharge planning, teaching, health education, patient health education, patient orientation, *also many headings related to education of a specific condition or situation i.e. diabetes education, lung transplantation education, terminal care education, pre-operative education, student health education, education non-traditional*

Patient Safety

Patient safety, treatment errors, health care errors, adverse health care event, patient safety evaluation, risk management, distraction, medication errors, infection control, cross infection, quality of health care, quality of nursing care, quality improvement, safety management, accidents, accidental falls, adverse drug event, safety, hand-off (patient safety)

Plan of care

patient care, family centered care, gender specific care, nursing care plans, patient care plans, managed care programs, managed care plans, case management, delivery of health care, nursing assessment, continuity of patient care, patient care plans, advanced care planning, *for disease-specific examples see appropriate subject heading and look for the added document type: care plan*, nursing care plans-computerized

Professional-client relations

nurse-patient relations, nurses and patients, interpersonal relations, professional-patient relations, professional-client relations, nurse-client relations, professional-patient relations, therapeutic relationship, intrapersonal, patient-centered care,  caregiver-patient relationship, professional-family relations

Quality of life Activities of daily living, patient satisfaction, health status, well-being, life purpose


recovery, adaptation-physiologic processes, rehabilitation, recovery education, recovery of function, attitude to health, treatment outcomes, *also specify what you are wanting to recover from, as there are subject headings that are specific to different conditions & situations, such as, anesthesia recovery*, wellness, improvement, quality of life, functional status

Relational Inquiry

Try searching for this term as a keyword

Relational practice

Nurse-patient relations, professional-patient relations, interpersonal relations, attitude of health personnel, communication, nurse attitudes, nursing attitudes, Therapeutic relationship, patient-centred care


nurse-patient relations, interpersonal relations*, patient-family relations, professional-client relations, professional-family relations, psychosocial support, communication

Research Research in nursing, nursing researchers,  research methodology, action research, nursing research, research design, study design, interviews, survey, questionnaires, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, research article, research process, focus groups, study group, nursing practice research-based, clinical nursing research, ethnological research, research instruments, field studies, mixed methods research, multi methods studies,  motivational interviewing, structured interviews, unstructured interview, prospective studies, cross-sectional studies, nursing care studies, retrospective design, ethnographic research, ethnonursing research, naturalistic inquiry, grounded theory
Research, Quantitative Quantitative, Statistical data, statistical analysis, descriptive statistics, numerical data, quantitative analysis, statistical methods, statistical methodology, health statistics, control group, empirical research
Research, Qualitative Qualitative research, qualitative studies, narratives, phenomenology, lived experience
Research, Reviews (Secondary) Nursing literature, medical literature, record review, systematic review, literature review, scoping review


Hardiness, adaptive, *adaptation, psychological*, coping, recovery, mental health, emotional intelligence , psychological well-being 


Patient safety, safety, safety management, occupational safety, equipment safety, patient identification, electronic health records


Self-care, patient education, patient attitudes, health behavior, attitude to health, self-report, disease management, self-efficacy, patient-compliance, goal setting, self-assessment


Stress psychological, stress occupational, coping, stress management, support psychosocial, quality of life, anxiety, biological stress, stress disorders, mental health, social support, supportive environments, burnout professional, burnout (related: depression, support, health status, emotions, physiological stress, stress reduction, stress relief, adaptation, caregiver burden, PTSD)


vulnerability, stigma, symptom distress, dependence, susceptibility, risk, vulnerable populations, *also consider specific susceptibilities whether physical, psychological, stress, aging, mental disorders, or social, such as poverty, health services accessibility, risk taking behavior, substance use, attitude to health, etc.* (contrast to hardiness, adaptation), special populations, stress-psychological, life changing events, social determinants of health, disease 

Wondering what databases to try after CINAHL?

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.

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