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Literature reviews: Health: Database Searching

For level 6/7 students

Look at the 'check your progress' box at the bottom of this page to make sure you have completed all the steps for this stage of your search

Searching for your literature

You can search many databases at once using EBSCOHost Databases.

You can find a link to this under mySearch on the Brightspace Library Area. 

Main databases for health

The following databases are fundamental for any health-related literature search. 

  • CINAHL - Main database for nursing and allied health professions. You might need to explore CINAHL headings to get a more focused set of results.
  • Medline  - Main database for clinical literature, especially useful for very specific clinical queries. You might need to explore MeSH headings to get a more focused set of results.
  • PsychInfo - Main database for mental health issues and psychiatry.
  • SocIndex  -  Main database for social issues; this could be useful if you are looking at sociological aspects of health care (e.g. patients from different backgrounds, influence of poverty in health conditions...etc).

Additional databases

  • Scopus - Large multidisciplinary citation database indexing 15,000 peer-reviewed journals
  • Web of Science - Large multidisciplinary citation database - the Core Collection covers 21,894 journals + books and conference proceedings
  • SportDISCUS - This database contains information on: sports medicine, exercise physiology, biomechanics, psychology, training technique, coaching, physical education, physical fitness, active living, recreation, history, facilities and equipment.
  • PubMed - it includes Medline and other health collections, not everything is free to access.
  • The Cochrane library contains systematic reviews (systematic literature reviews) and primary research (clinical trials and other studies).
  • NICE Knowledge and Library Hub - it includes primary and secondary evidence used to put together national guidelines.
  • AMED - Allied and Complementary Medicine - available with your Open Athens account.
  • EMCARE - Nursing and Allied Health Database - available with your Open Athens account.
  • HMIC - Health Management Information Consortium - useful for queries about management of healthcare - available with your Open Athens account.
  • EMBASE - Excerpta Medica Database  - available with you Open Athens account.

How to de-duplicate

Check your progress

Stage of your search Things to remember
Your first attempt at the search to see if it works.
  • Run your search, and add any new relevant search terms that you find add to the appropriate search line of the database and also update your Search Planning Form
  • If you do find additional terms to add, remember you need to re-search your databases to update the results to include the new term
  • Test to make sure your search terms are locating relevant articles
  • Add truncation * and "phrase searching"  where necessary
Have you decided on the limits to apply?
  • Apply peer-reviewed, English language, date range, etc. (think about the justification for the date range you have chosen)


Have you checked your topic for literature reviews and/or systematic reviews?
  • If a literature or systematic review has been done on your topic, you need to discuss this with your academic. Systematic reviews and literature reviews are not primary research