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Forming Focused Questions with PICO: Resources

Created by Health Science Librarians

References and Further Reading

Booth, A., Noyes, J., Flemming, K., Moore, G., Tunçalp, Ö., & Shakibazadeh, E. (2019). Formulating questions to explore complex interventions within qualitative evidence synthesis. BMJ global health, 4(Suppl 1), e001107. Available from

Chapter 2: Determining the scope of the review and the questions it will address. (2019). In J. Higgins, J. Thomas, J. Chandleer, M. Cumpston, T. Li, M. Page, & V. Welch (Eds.), Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (6.0 ed.), The Cochrane Collaboration. Available from

Chapter 5: Defining the review question and developing criteria for including studies. (2009). In J. Higgins, & S. Green (Eds.), Cochrane handbook for systemic reviews of interventions (5.0.1 ed.,) The Cochrane Collaboration. Available from

Eriksen MB, Frandsen TF. The impact of patient, intervention, comparison, outcome (PICO) as a search strategy tool on literature search quality: a systematic review. J Med Libr Assoc. 2018;106(4):420‐431. Available from

Flemming, K. (1998) Asking answerable questions. Evidence-Based Nursing. 1(2), 36-37. Available from BMJ Evidence Based Nursing.

Formulating EBP questions. (2009). In N.A. Schmidt, & J.M. Brown (Eds.), Evidence-based practice for nurses: Appraisal and application of research (pp. 69-70) Sudbury, Mass. : Jones and Bartlett Publishers, c2009.

Making the most of existing knowledge. (2004). In P. Crookes, & S. Davies (Eds.), Research into practice: Essential skills for reading and applying research in nursing and health care (pp. 42-43) Edinburgh; New York : Bailliere Tindall, 2004.

McKibbon, K.A., & Marks, S. (2001). Posing clinical questions: Framing the question for scientific inquiry. AACN Clinical Issues: Advanced Practice in Acute & Critical Care, 12(4), 477-481.

Planning a literature search. (2006). In K. Gerrish, & A. Lacey (Eds.), The research process in nursing (pp. 95-96) Oxford; Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2006.

Stone, P.W. (2002). Popping the (PICO) question in research and evidence-based practice. Applied Nursing Research, 15(3), 197-198.

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With Thanks and Feedback

We thank Lisa Philpotts, RN, BSN, for her work on the original version of this guide.

Your comments and suggestions on this tutorial are welcome. Please give us your feedback at