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Cleveland Clinic Florida - How to Conduct Systematic Reviews: What is PICO

Using PICO to formulate a search question

The Cochrane Library Searching using PICOT

What is PICO?

According to the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM), well-formed clinical questions are essential in practicing EBM. "To benefit patients and clinicians, such questions need to be both directly relevant to patients' problems and phrased in ways that direct your search to relevant and precise answers." - CEBM, University of Toronto, Asking Focused Questions

The PICO model is a tool that can help you formulate a good clinical question. Sometimes it's referred to as PICO-T, containing an optional 5th factor. 

P - Patient,  Population, or  Problem  What are the most important characteristics of the patient? How  would you describe a group of patients similar to yours?
 I - Intervention,  Exposure,  Prognostic Factor  What main intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure are you  considering? What do you want to do for the patient (prescribe a  drug,  order a test, etc.)?
 C - Comparison  What is the main alternative to compare with the intervention? 
 O - Outcome  What do you hope to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect?
 T - Time Factor,  Type of Study  (optional)  How would you categorize this question? What would be the best study design to answer this question? 

 

This page was adapted from  (PA/MPH) PICO by George Washington University, Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library.