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College of Health Professions Evidence Based Practice Portal

An interprofessional research portal for students in the Wichita State University College of Health Professions.


This module covers formulating a well-built research question using the PICO method of asking questions in a clinical setting.  PICO is a mnemonic that helps you remember what questions to ask in a clinical setting.

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These resources have more information on PICO:

PICO Examples

Element of the clinical question


Describe as accurately as possible the patient or group of patients of interest

Intervention (or cause, prognosis)

What is the main intervention or therapy you wish to consider?
Including an exposure to disease, a diagnostic test, a prognostic factor, a treatment, a patient perception, a risk factor, etc.

Comparison (optional)

Is there an alternative treatment to compare?
Including no disease, placebo, a different prognotic factor, absence of risk factor, etc.


What is the clincial outcome, including a time horizon if relevant?

Example In patients with acute bronchitis, do antibiotics none reduce sputum production, cough or days off.?
Example In children with cancer what are the current treatments   in the management of fever and infection?
Example Among family-members of patients undergoing diagnostic procedures does standard care, listening to tranquil music, or audiotaped comedy routines make a difference in the reduction of reported anxiety.      
Example In patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity, is bariatric surgery more effective
than standard medical therapy at increasing the probability of remission of diabetes?


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