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NHS: Databases

A general guide to Library Services for NHS staff via King's College London

Introduction to database searching

woman with laptop

Databases are collections of resources such as journal articles and conference papers, and also sometimes book chapters and reports. If you are doing a literature search or systematic review they are a key resource to use.

There are two main kinds of database:

  • Bibliographic - these index what has been published for a particular subject area and are used to identify material that you might want to locate and study
  • Full text - as well as providing the bibliographic information they also provide access to the full text of the material you may wish to read

When searching using the NHS Healthcare Databases Advanced Search (HDAS) Interface you will find links to the full text of articles when you look at your search results.  If there is no link then you should see if it is available via the King's College London A-Z list (see the Journals Tab for how to do this).  Some full text databases available to NHS staff (Proquest and Ebsco) will not work when logged in to King's College London computers due to authentication issues.

Tips and guides

Choosing a database - HDAS

The NHS has a specially designed platform for searching databases called Healthcare Databases Advanced Search (HDAS).  This allows you to search different databases without needing to use lots of different interfaces. The databases you can search using HDAS are AMED, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE, HBE, HMIC, Medline, PsychINFO and PubMed.


Free sign-up sessions introducing you to searching healthcare databases via HDAS are available. See the Training tab for booking. You can also request one of these sessions for a group via the Request a workshop tab.

The following materials might also be helpful in using HDAS:

For those who prefer it you can access the databases on HDAS via the original supplier interfaces by logging into My resources on OpenAthens.

PubMed with links to full articles

PubMed is a useful way to search MEDLINE - it is the first one to be updated with new records and has handy tools for finding related articles and for supporting your searching.

To search PubMed with added links to the journals we provide access to you need to follow a special link

GSTT staff should use -

KCH staff should use -

An icon  like this appears where the full article should be available with your NHS OpenAthens login.