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Research Basics

PICO(T) for Clinical Questions

Healthcare professionals sometimes use the PICO or PICOT format to develop keywords for searching of clinical questions where:

  • P - Patient or Population or Problem
  • I - Intervention or prognostic factor of interest
  • C - Comparison to intervention
  • O - Outcome of interest
  • T - Time (sometimes included)

For more information on Evidence-Based Practice and using PICO to develop a clinical research question, please read: 

Asking the compelling question. (2019). In M. Godshall, Fast fact for evidence-based practice: Implementing EBP in a nutshell.  Springer Publishing Company.

Forming Your Research Question

Aslam, S., & Emmanuel, P. (2010). Formulating a researchable question: A critical step for facilitating good clinical researchIndian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases31(1): 47–50.

Stillwell, S. B., Fineout-Overholt, E., Melnyk, B. M., & Williamson, K. M. (2010). Evidence-based practice, step by step: Asking the clinical question: A key step in evidence-based practiceAmerican Journal of Nursing110(3): 58-61.


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