Forming Focused Questions with PICO
What does PICO stand for?
Additional letters (for PICOT, PICOS, PICOTS, PICOTTS)
- Type of study
The PICO Framework
This guide introduces the PICO question framework for evidence-based practice. It explores PICO’s history, purpose, and limitations. This guide also introduces other question frameworks and provides example questions from across many health professions.
PICO and Its History
PICO is an acronym used to remember the key components of a clinical question. Physicians first developed the PICO framework in evidence-based medicine as a way to address knowledge gaps during patient encounters. Questions could arise around a patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy, as well as around prevention strategies and patient education. Since then, PICO has become the most widely used question framework for evidence-based practice.
The Purpose of PICO
PICO is useful in academic and clinical settings. It can help you:
- form a question that focuses on the most important issue for a patient or a population
- identify key terms to use in a search for evidence
- select results that directly relate to the situation
PICO has some limitations. The framework privileges interventions, experimental research, and dominant voices.
Get help with your PICO
Other guides and tools: