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Michigan State University

Nursing Theory Resources: Journal Articles

This guide describes how and where to find nursing theory and theorist information in books, articles, and websites.

Searching for Nursing Theory Articles

CINAHL is the premier nursing database and should be the first place you try to find nursing journal articles. Most articles written about nursing theory or that apply nursing theory to research appear in nursing journals. Therefore, most nursing theory searches should be able to be completed in CINAHL.

To find articles about a nursing theory, including those that apply a specific nursing theory to practice, you'll want to complete a keyword search in CINAHL.

  • To do keyword searching in CINAHL, simply enter your keyword(s).
  • There's not one correct way to do keyword searching in CINAHL - it's very important to try different keyword combinations.
  • You may be able to simply enter the name of the nursing theory into the searchbox. If this retrieves too many results, try adding the theorist's last name.

               CINAHL Search Examples (Keyword):

  • self-care deficit theory
  • neumann AND systems model
  • Roy adaptation model

Searching for Articles by Nursing Theorists

CINAHL - Nursing Theorist Searches

  • To find articles written by a nursing theorist, you'll want to complete an author search in CINAHL.
  • Searching in CINAHL by author can be a bit tricky, especially for certain names.
  • CINAHL does not respond well when you do an author search that includes the person's first name or initials. You may want to search by last name only.
  • To do an author search in CINAHL, enter the person's last name into the top searchbox and select 'AU Author' from the 'Select a Field (optional)' dropdown.
  • If the last name is fairly common (ex: King) or the person has written many articles, you may get results that are not specific to your nursing theorist or nursing theory. HINT: After entering your theorist's last name and selecting 'AU Author' from the 'Select a Field (optional)' dropdown, enter a couple of words from the nursing theory name in the second search box and leave the dropdown at 'Select a Field (optional)'.

     CINAHL Search Examples (Author):

  • Parse ('AU Author' selected from dropdown)
  • King ('AU Author' selected from dropdown) AND goal attainment ('Select a Field (optional)' selected from dropdown)
  • Orem ('AU Author' selected from dropdown) AND theory ('Select a Field (optional)' selected from dropdown)

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