Formulating a PICO Question


What is a PICO question anyway?

Finding relevant medical information is often easier if you first develop a PICO question. This is a way of formulating a medical question to better match the capabilities of database search engines such as PubMed.

PICO is an acronym for:

Patient and Problem
Sex, age, race? Primary complaint? Disease History?
What do you want to do for them? Prescribe a drug? Order a test?
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 Example:

In children with asthma, are inhaled corticosteroids more likely to result in growth delay than standard therapy with beta-agonists?

P= children with asthma
I= inhaled corticosteroids
C= beta-agonists
O= growth delay

A PubMed search strategy might look like this:
inhaled corticosteroids AND asthma AND growth delay
Limits Activated: All Child: 0-18 years

PubMed for Handhelds (Memorial On-Campus/Remote One and Mercer On-Campus access)
PubMed for Handhelds (Mercer Off-Campus access)

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