Is Access to CINAHL Necessary for Allied Health Scholarship?

A robust core journal collection that meets the needs of the allied health sciences is crucial to a functioning health sciences library. Allied health professionals require literature to support evidence-based practice, curricula, and licensure activities.1 A previous analysis between CINAHL, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and MEDLINE concluded that the number of unique nursing titles indexed in CINAHL but not covered in MEDLINE was small.2,3 Hill’s 2009 study focused on the coverage of nursing and allied health subjects in CINAHL and Scopus and concluded that while there was significant overlap, there was not enough evidence to determine that CINAHL coverage is redundant. We compared the current allied health journal coverage in CINAHL with that of Scopus to determine the number and types of journals available exclusively through CINAHL. Coverage rate, currency and publication types (academic journal, magazine, trade publication) were evaluated. We hope that this information will help the library to make future collection development decisions.

A list of 199 allied health titles indexed in CINAHL, but not MEDLINE, were obtained from an EBSCO CINAHL representative. 140 of these titles were identified by EBSCO as academic journals. For each title that was identified in the document, a search was performed for the same title in Scopus. Out of the 140 academic allied health journals that are indexed in CINAHL, 62 (44%) were either not indexed at all or were selectively indexed in Scopus. After evaluating the overlap in title coverage and type of titles covered between CINAHL and Scopus, we determined that CINAHL has important coverage that is not duplicated in Scopus. Although it is difficult to ascertain the total number of allied health journals published, a study by Brandon and Hill recommends a list of 77 publications in their selection guide (2000). Because of the limited number of journal titles in the allied health field, these 62 journal titles represent a large portion of the body of literature that would not be available in Scopus. If a library supports the allied health field, CINAHL is an important database to have in its collection.

Reminder: because no one database covers every journal, when searching for information it is important to look in more than one resource.

Please e-mail Rose Turner for detailed methodology and results.

~Rose Turner and Linda Hartman

  1. Hill D.R., and Stickell H.N. Brandon/Hill Selected List of Print Books and Journals in Allied Health. Journal of the Medical Library Association 91, no. 1 (2003): 18-33.
  1. Klem M.L., and Tannery N.H. Do Nursing Students Need Instruction in Both CINAHL and MEDLINE? HSLS Update Newsletter (December, 2013).
  1. Hill B. Comparison of Journal Title Coverage between CINAHL and Scopus. Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA 97, no. 4(2009): 313-4.