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Athletic Training

Guide Contents

  • Evaluating literature
  • Developing a search strategy
  • Searching for literature
  • Integrating literature


PICO Activity


Forming a Research Question

Identify the details of your topic in order to compose a question. Use the PICO form on the left for help.

PICO is an acronym that can help focus your research question. PICO stands for:

 P  Patient, Population, or Problem
 I  Intervention
 C  Comparison or Control
 O  Outcome


In this example, the focus is on high school football players with head injuries. This study compares weekly helmet checks to only two checks a season. Is there a decrease in concussions rates with weekly checks? If there is enough evidence, should the school district require athletic trainers and football staff to check the helmets weekly? If the school district does changes their helmet-checking requirements and schedules, this would be an evidence-based practice.

Questions Example Answers Search Terms
MeSH* Keywords**
(Ex: illness, condition, age, gender, ethnicity)
In high school football players... Adolescent, Football, Athletes teen, adolescent, high school, football, quarterback, running back, etc.
(Ex: medication, diet, activity, or method)
would weekly checks of the air within the helmet padding... Head Protective Devices  helmet
Are you making a COMPARISON
(Ex: alternate treatment, medication, or method)
  when compared to checking air pressure before the season and again mid-season... see box above see box above

What is the intended OUTCOME
(Ex: health status, delayed or eliminated illness)

lead to lower concussion rates? Craniocerebral Trauma, Athletic Injuries, Brain Concussion concussion

Is the evidence enough for the school district to require weekly checks of high school football player's helmets?

*MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) - set of terms used in biomedical databases to "tag" the subjects contained in articles.

**Keywords - text found in articles or article titles that describe the subject; similar topics; synonyms.