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This Research Guide is available to help students in the Nursing program find the resources you need to complete your research projects and papers.

PICO - Developing a Clinical Question

Using PICO to Frame Clinical Questions

To use evidence-based practice, you need a clear idea of the question you would like to answer. The PICO criteria can help you formulate a clinical question and guide your search for Evidence, helping you find the best evidence in a quicker, more efficient manner. 

Image of a P (Patient or Problem) from PICO criteriaImage of an I (Intervention) from PICO criteriaImage of a C (Comparison) from PICO criteriaImage of an O (Outcome) from PICO criteria

P Patient or Problem How would you describe the patient? What issue are they experiencing?
I Intervention What would you like to do to help the patient?
C Comparison What would be the alternative to the intervention you selected?
O Outcome By doing the intervention, what do you hope to accomplish?

PICO can also help you to identify keywords to use in CINAHL and PubMed. You don't want to use the entire clinical question as your search terms. Pull out the most important words to optimize your search results.

Source: Using PubMed in Evidence-Based Practice tutorial from the National Library of Medicine  (