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PICO Research: Evidence Based Practice

PICO(T) Method

The PICO(T) format is a useful strategy for summarizing research questions:

 P – Population refers to the sample of subjects you wish to recruit for your study. Consider disease, health status, age, gender, race, sexual orientation.
 I – Intervention refers to the treatment that will be provided to subjects enrolled in your study.  It may include tests, therapies, or medications.
C – Comparison identifies what you plan on using as a reference group to compare with your treatment intervention. Control group.
O – Outcome represents what result you plan on measuring to examine the effectiveness of your intervention. What do you hope to accomplish-recovery, fewer syptoms
T – Time describes the duration for your data collection.

 Use the PICOT fomat to formulate questions.

Your PICOT question will fall under one of these types:

  • Therapy/Prevention
  • Diagnosis
  • Etiology
  • Prognosis

Subject Headings of Evidence Based Practice

You will find that different databases use different Subject Headings to organize information.  Subject headings for Evidence-based practice:

CINAHL uses Nursing practice, evidence-based (with hyphen)

Medline with Full-Text uses evidence-based-medicine (with hyphens)

PsycInfo uses Evidence based practice (no hyphen)

Using PICOT to frame a research question

An example of how to use the PICOT format to create a clinical question, and the beginnings of a search strategy. Developed at the  University of Otago Wellington New Zeeland's Medical and Health Sciences Library.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR)

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the leading resource for systematic reviews in health care. The CDSR includes Cochrane Reviews (the systematic reviews) and protocols for Cochrane Reviews as well as editorials. The CDSR also has occasional supplements. The CDSR is updated regularly as Cochrane Reviews are published ‘when ready’ and form monthly issues.

The AU Library does not subscribe to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews at this time.  However, Cochrane is working towards the goal of achieving universal open access to new and updated Cochrane Reviews by the end of 2020. The plan for reaching this goal includes a process for providing open access immediately upon publication for both new and updated reviews, and later for substantial archive of published reviews.

From February 2013, all new Cochrane Reviews became free to access for ALL readers 12 months after publication. Cochrane is working with their publisher, Wiley, publisher of  the Cochrane Library, to provide a selection of other options for making reviews open access immediately. 

Evidence Based Practice-- E-Journals

Evidence Based Medicine Web Sites