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PICO Method: Introduction

P.I.C.O. Model for Clinical Questions

What is the PICO Model?

Without a well-focused question, it could be difficult and time-consuming to identify appropriate resources and search for relevant evidence. Practitioners of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) use a specialized model framework, called PICO, to form the question and facilitate the literature search1.

The P.I.C.O. Model for Clinical Questions

P Patient, Population, or Problem How would I describe a group of patients similar to mine?
I Intervention, Prognostic Factor, or Exposure Which main intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure am I considering?
C Comparison or Intervention (if appropriate) What is the main alternative to compare with the intervention?
O Outcome you would like to measure or achieve What can I hope to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect?
  What Type of question are you asking? Diagnosis, Etiology/Harm, Therapy, Prognosis, Prevention
  Type of Study you want to find What would be the best study design/methodology?



  1. Schardt, C., Adams, M. B., Owens, T., Keitz, S. and Fontelo, P., Utilization of the PICO framework to improve searching PubMed for clinical questions, BMC medical informatics and decision making, 2007, 7(1):16.
  2. Evidence, S. m. t., How to Use the PICO Method to Form a Clinical Question - YouTube, 2015.

Subject Librarian

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PICO Tools

The example PICO worksheet and tool below help you practice the formulation of clinical questions.

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