The first step in evidence based research is learning how to ask
an answerable clinical question.
A helpful technique to use to assemble this question is to employ the PICO mnemonic.
|P: Patient, Problem, Population
Sex, age, race? Primary complaint? Disease History?
|I: Intervention or Therapy
What do you want to do for your patient? Prescribe a drug? Order a test?
|C: Comparison, Control
What alternatives do you want to compare the intervention to?
What do you hope to accomplish, improve or affect? Relieve or reduce symptoms? Improve function or improve test scores?
PICO helps form a focused question that will return relevant results, it helps you retrieve a manageable number of results, and it can assist in brainstorming keywords for your research. Using PICO to construct a well-built clinical question can lead directly to a well-built search strategy. It is not necessary to use all the information in PICO in your search strategy; you may wish to leave out terms to achieve results that are more broad.