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Nursing & Allied Health Professions Library Guide

This guide is intended to support Lane students taking Nursing and the Allied Health Professions courses find materials for research, projects, and clinical practice.

Clinical Questions

A well-built clinical question is directly relevant to patient care and helps guide searching for evidence-based answers. There are generally four components of a good clinical question--represented by the acronym PICO, or sometimes, PICO(T).

P - Patient, population or problem of interest
I - Intervention - therapy, diagnostic test, exposure, etc.
C - Comparison intervention, if relevant
O - Outcome(s) of interest
T - Time or duration

For example, consider the question: "What's the best form of birth control?"  In this example, the "best" is subjective - you'll need to restate your question in the PICO format to get a clinical answer.

P - Best birth control for whom?  Teenagers?  Women who have already given birth?
I - Which specific methods are you examining?  Condoms?  Implanted hormonal methods?
C - Which other option will you compare this intervention to?  Condoms compared to an IUD is a different question than condoms compared to no birth control at all.
O - Pregnancy is an obvious outcome of concern, but what about side effects? How frequently or effectively the patient uses the method?

T - Is there a time frame for this option, or duration for efficacy or treatment?

The PICO(T) format will help you translate your question from an initial broad topic or individual patient's experience, to a concrete, objective question that you can find clinical evidence to answer.