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CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature)

Cinahl covers the journal literature of nursing, biomedicine, alternative/complementary medicine, and 17 allied health disciplines

What are Research Instruments?

In CINAHL, what are Research Instruments?
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Research Instruments are measurement tools (for example, questionnaires or scales) designed to obtain data on a topic of interest from research subjects. Research instrument records are researched and created by CINAHL staff and these provide information about the research instrument, including information such as the purpose of the instrument, the population addressed, the variables measured, and more. CINAHL Plus includes research instrument records, research instrument validation records, and research instrument utilization records. CINAHL includes just research instrument records.

Research Instrument Records - provide details on validation and utilization of research instruments. The records indicate which studies have used a specific research instrument and include the purpose/variable measured, sample population, methodology, other instruments, items and questions, where the original study was mentioned and how to obtain the actual research instrument.

Research Instrument Validation and Utilization Records - provide details on the validation and utilization studies of each instrument. They include the purpose/variable measured, sample population, methodology, other instruments, items and questions and the source for the instrument.


A consise and helpful pdf on this topic is Finding Research Instruments and Questionnaires in CINAHL by Duke University.

Locate a Survey or Instrument in Cinahl

Use the Cinahl Heading  "Research Instrument" to see what is available. If you choose the main subject heading of  "Research Instrument" remember to click "Explode" - this means you want all the narrower aspects of this main subject heading, like Instrument by Name and Instrument by Type, etc.

You can select all available research instruments, or you can click on Research Instruments to see more specific aspects of this topic, like Instrument by Type.

  • To find articles about instruments, select Instrument By Name or Instrument By Type
  • To find articles about how to develop or validate instruments , select Instrument Construction, Instrument Scaling or Instrument Validation

After you have made your selection, click on "Search Database." 

research instruments in cinahl

Cinahl will run a search based on this selection and you will return to the main search screen. In the first search box you can see that our "Research Instruments" search has been added. Now, add your own terms in the next search box to see what instruments are available related to your topic.

research instruments in cinahl

Search for a Known Survey Instrument

There are many searchable fields in Cinahl. One field is Instrumentation. If you know the name of your instrument, you can enter that term or phrase and then select "IN Instrumentation" from the drop down menu.

Start With a Topic and Limit to Research Instruments

If you want to limit a subject search to research instruments, click edit from the Search History. This will open a menu of search limits.

research instruments

The Edit Search menu is quite extensive. Look for the Publication Type on the right side of the screen.

research instruments

You will want to limit your selection to

  • Questionnaire/Scale
  • Research Instrument(s)

You can choose more than one option by holding down the control key (PC) or command key (MAC).

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