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Use the PICO formula to create a good question:
P ATIENT / POPULATION – the "who" of your question
I NTERVENTION – What main intervention or treatment are you considering?
C OMPARISON – What is the main alternative to compare with the intervention? Are you trying to decide between two drugs? A drug and no medication, or placebo? Or two diagnostic tests?
O UTCOME – What do you hope for the outcome?
Some PICO's also integrate the concept of time: T
Sample Format: For (P)_______ how would (I)_______ compared to (C)_______ affect (O)_______?
Do weekly exercise sessions allow 40-50 year old women to maintain their weight loss better than biweekly exercise sessions?
P = 40-50 year old women
I = weekly exercise sessions
C = biweekly exercise sessions
O = better weight loss management
For college soccer players with lateral ankle sprains, do surgical ligament repairs reduce sprain recurrence more than non-surgical treatments?
P = college soccer players with lateral ankle sprains
I = surgical ligament repairs
C = non-surgical treatments
O = reduced rate of recurrence
If you're struggling with PICO, these tips might help.
Some scenarios won't have a comparison.
For some scenarios, the comparison could be not doing anything.
If you're not sure which item is the intervention and which is the comparison, you can still begin your search.