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NURS 5367 Evidence-Based Practice: Dr. Bacchus


The difference between PICO and PICOT is that PICOT includes the element of time.

What is PICO?

PICO is a pneumonic that stands for Patient/Problem, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome. PICO is one of many frameworks used to create answerable research questions. PICO is chosen for this course because it is useful in finding quantitative research as is required for Nursing Research courses.  PICO is used to help keep database searches focused on key elements of the research question. Adhering to the PICO framework will prevent you from spending time on elements that do not pertain to your research question, which saves time and ensures your efforts are targeted.


There are many question types that use the PICO format. To determine what type of question you are trying to answer, review the table below which summarizes the question types:


Now that you have determined what type of question you are working with, you can plug in the PICO elements into the appropriate sentence structure shown below to create your research question:


In_______________, what is the effect of ________________on _______________ compared with _________________?

Example: In high school children (P), what is the effect of a nurse-led presentation on bullying (I) on a reduction in reported incidences of bullying (O) compared with no intervention (C).


For ___________ does the use of _________________ reduce the future risk of ____________ compared with ______________?

Example: For adults over age 65 (P) does a daily 30-minute exercise regimen (I) reduce the future risk of heart attack (O) compared with no exercise regimen (C)?


Are (Is) ________________ more accurate in diagnosing _______________ compared with ____________?

Example: Is a yearly mammogram (I) more effective in detecting breast cancer (O) compared with a mammogram every 3 years (C) in women under age 50 (P)?


Does ____________ influence ______________ in patients who have _____________?

Example: Does daily home blood pressure monitoring (I) influence compliance with medication regimens for hypertension (O) in adults over age 60 who have hypertension (P).


Are ______________ who have _______________ at ______________ risk for/of ____________ compared with _____________


Example: Are women ages 25-40 (P) who take oral contraceptives (I) at greater risk for developing blood clots (O) compared with women ages 25-40 (P) who use IUDs for contraception (C)?

How do _______________ diagnosed with _______________ perceive __________________?

Example: How do first-time mothers (P) of premature babies in the NICU (I) perceive bonding with their infant (O)?

Important Note for Nursing Research Students:

1) For Nursing Research courses, it will be helpful to you to choose a question that is very broad to increase the chances of finding articles that meet all of your assignment parameters. The more specific you are, the less likely you are to find articles that meet the criteria in your grading rubric.

2) Think of elements that nurses control because you are utilizing CINAHL which is primarily a nursing database. If you choose a topic that crosses disciplines like mental health, CINAHL will not be the only database you will have to search in. To search in another discipline, go to databases a-z and select the subject from the drop-down menu (shown below) to get to the list of relevant databases. You will need to add the word nurse and its plural forms as synonyms as a keyword and subject heading search to your PICO elements. Those steps are outlined later.