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Finding Survey Instruments and Questionnaires: Keyword Searching CINAHL Complete

Keyword Searching CINAHL Complete

The field defaults for keyword searching in CINAHL Complete cover the following indexes:

TI Title

AB Abstract

SU Subject Headings

These are among the most text-rich fields in the database, but they constitute only a fraction of the searchable indexes available in CINAHL Complete.

Searching this database by keyword is not the best way to locate its instrument references.


The most helpful index for narrow angle, focused instrument searching of CINAHL Complete is

• IN Instrumentation - searching this index field ensures retrieval of a small but topically relevant set of titled instrument references.

Instrumentation is the only index in CINAHL specifically designed to locate behavioral instruments.

The remaining search strategies for finding instrument references in CINAHL Complete are all variations of the nested "OR" search strategy:

AB Abstracts nested "OR" search (narrowest of the nested strategies; retrieves substantially more records than instrumentation search but fewer results than either Subjects or All Text)

SU Subjects nested "OR" search (larger search retrieval than Abstracts nested "OR," but smaller than All Text).

TX All Text nested "OR": search (broadest instrument search strategy; retrieves the largest number of instrument referenced records in the database).¹


¹ Bear in mind that volume isn't necessarily an ally in the hunt for instrument references. Increasing volume potentially increases the percentage of irrelevant results and 'red herrings' (records that mention an instrument term like "survey" in the abstract but reference no published instruments directly).  



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