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Researching in Nursing and Allied Health

A research guide for students in MJC's Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, and other Allied Health programs.

What is PICO(T)?

PICO(T) is a framework that helps one remember the key components of a well focused question.  The question needs to identify the key problem of the patient, what treatment to consider, alternative treatment considered (if any), what is the outcome you want to avoid or promote, and the timeframe (if any).

PICO(T) is used to create a researchable question based on a clinical situation encountered.  Based on your PICO question, you will identify keywords and/or subject terms to use in database searches. 

Developing Research Questions Using PICOT

  • Patient or population/disease: Which population are you studying? (Consider age, gender, ethnicity, group with a certain disorder)
  • Intervention or variable of interest: What do you want to do for the patient or what variable are you studying? (Consider therapy, exposure to a disease, risk behavior, prognostic factor, preventative measure, or diagnostic test)
  • Comparison or control: Are you comparing two interventions or variables? (Consider absence of disease, absence of risk factor, use of placebo, prognostic factor B)
  • Outcome: What is the expected result or what do you hope to accomplish, improve or affect? (Consider disease incidence, accuracy of a diagnosis, rate of occurrence of adverse outcome, survival or mortality rates)
  • Time: What is the timeframe? (Consider the time when population will be observed, or outcome is measured.)

Example of Using PICOT

Use questions to help you focus your search for sources.