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Nursing 702: Advanced Nursing Research

A guide for Hunter-Bellevue students in Nursing 702

PICO(T) Format

P:  "Patient," "Population," or "Problem" (medical condition/disorder plus age, gender, ethnicity, or other characteristics)

I:  "Intervention" or "Indicator" (treatment, therapy, diagnostic test)

C:  "Comparison" or benchmark (an alternative intervention, a placebo, or absence of disease)

O:  "Outcome" or anticipated result of intervention (what it will affect)

T:  "Time" (the time it takes the intervention to achieve an outcome)

Building Clinical Questions with PICO(T)

The PICO(T) format can help you develop a clear, answerable research question and decide what type of evidence you are looking for. The templates below can help you form a research question (note that not every question may contain all PICO(T) elements).  


Some sample PICO templates:

For an intervention or therapy:

In _______(P), what is the effect of _______(I) on ______(O) compared with _______(C), within ________ (T)?


For a diagnosis or diagnostic test:

Are (is) _________ (I) more accurate in diagnosing ________ (P) compared with ______ (C) for _______ (O)?


For prevention questions:

For ________ (P) does the use of ______ (I) reduce the future risk of ________ (O) compared with _________ (C)?


Based on Melnyk B., & Fineout-Overholt E. (2010). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.