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CINAHL Complete Tutorial

The purpose of this guide is to outline different features of the database CINAHL Plus with Full Text.

CINAHL Heading Tool: Explode

Explode is for including related narrower terms in your search, along with major concepts to make sure no articles are overlooked because the subject heading used was a subheading.


  • Cross infection (Any infection spread by a patient or staff member within a health care facility.)
    • Narrower related terms: 
      • Catheter Related Infections
      • Healthcare-Associated Pneumonia
      • Pneumonia, Ventilator- Associated

This allows you to get results from all three subject headings in one search.


Strategy CINAHL Headings Search for articles about:  # of Results
Cross Infection CINAHL Heading Alone: Cross Infection  25,796
Cross Infection CINAHL Heading + Explode: Cross Infection, Catheter Related Infections, Healthcare-Associated Pneumonia, Pneumonia, Ventilator- Associated  34,186

Below is the process on how to "Explode" a CINAHL Heading:

  1. Go to the CINAHL Headings page. (Review the Basics of CINAHL Headings page to learn how to access the CINAHL Headings page). 
  2. Type in your main topic like cross infection in the search box, and click search.
  3. Click on the checkbox next to the term you want to use. 
  4. Click on the checkbox under Explode (+). 
  5. Click Search Database. 

To see a demonstration of this process, watch the video below: