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A guide to resources and research in nursing. See also, for evidence based practice

Creating a Question

PICO describes the process of defining a problem and creating a clinical question, e.g., a good clinical question will include all :

P Patient population of interest   

I Intervention/issue of interest  

C Comparison of interest 

O Outcome of interest                

Sometimes, a fifth element, Time, is added to the process          

Example:How effective is glucosamine, compared to no treatment, in treating osteoarthritis in middle aged women?

P Patient population of interest and/or problem  =    Middle aged women with osteoarthritis
I Intervention/issue of interest  =                            Glucosamine
C Comparison of interest =                                    No treatment
O Outcome of interest =                                        Decreased pain from osteoarthritis

Identify the topics and terms from your question to search the literature 

Search Tip: Begin with a broader search by using only a couple of elements, such as P (population) and I (intervention). Based on your results, you can add in keywords that fit the other PICO(T) elements. 


PICO Worksheet

Link to full size worksheet

Researching the Question

Locate information by searching the literature. This involves using appropriate terminology in relevant databases such as CINAHL and PubMed. Use the books and articles tabs to identify relevant resources.

Example: From the question above (is glucosamine an effective agent in the short-term treatment of osteoarthritis for middle aged women)

an appropriate database search would be CINAHL (You may use the CINAHL Headings to select subject headings or search using keywords normally):

Limits such as date, age group, and gender may be applied before or after a search:

Don't forget to use a variety of databases, e.g., Cochrane, Medline, Nursing and Allied Health, OVID Nursing Collection to identify research.