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Library Services



Library Skills@UCL for NHS

A guide to information literacy and library skills for NHS staff from Trusts supported by UCL Library Services, to inform clinical practice, study and research.

Searching healthcare databases: NHS bibliographic databases

If you need to conduct a more specific / focused search, and / or need to produce a search strategy, then you would use bibliographic databases.

Bibliographic databases are an indexed set of references (records), usually including an abstract, which are searchable, and also sometimes allow linking to full text documents. Documents are typically journal articles (reports of clinical trials and systematic reviews), but could include: guidelines, book reviews, conference abstracts, and postgraduate / doctoral research output.

The following are included in the NHS 'core' subscription, accessible via an OpenAthens account:  

(Note: MEDLINE is accessible via a number of platforms /interfaces.)

The following are freely available and require no login:

Which database should you search?  Information about the subject strengths of each database is provided above each video below; for a briefer guide see also basic information about the subject coverage of each database.

To familiarise yourself with the various search interfaces for each database (e.g. Ovid), click on the appropriate link to see training videos or guides (below).

Cochrane Library


EBSCOhost databases

CINAHL is the authoritative index to literature on nursing, allied health, biomedicine and healthcare. It is available via the EBSCOhost platform.

Ovid databases

The OvidSP platform provides access to 'general biomedicine and healthcare' databases: Medline and Embase. Embase has particularly good indexing for pharmaceutical /drug information. Other databases available via Ovid are more specialised, and cover, e.g. nursing and allied health (Embase); health & social care management (HMIC); social care, public health and law & order (Social Policy & Practice).

ProQuest databases

ProQuest (Academic) is an interface for searching a number of specialist subject databases, indexing psychology information (PsycINFO); practice, education, research and development of nurses and midwives (British Nursing Index); medical information (Health Research Premium Collection, including MEDLINE); literature related to traumatic stress (PTSDpubs).


PubMed is an index to biomedical literature. With predominantly data from the MEDLINE database, it can be thought of as a platform for searching MEDLINE. 

Trip Medical Database

Trip (Turning Research into Practice) is a search engine, designed to answer clinical questions, and links to: systematic reviews and primary research. The 'Pro' version also links to (international) clinical guidelines.

You can link to Trip Pro directly.