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Evidence-Based Nursing: Asking the Clinical Question

What is the PICO Question?

The first step of the evidence-based nursing process involves taking the clinical issue under consideration and formulating it into a searchable, answerable question.  The model which is frequently used for this part of the process is termed “PICO,” containing the following components:

            Patient population of interest

            Intervention of interest

            Comparison of interest

            Outcome of interest


The development of a well defined, clearly focused question will help to streamline the process of searching for the amount and type of literature needed to begin to answer the question and address the clinical problem.

(Adapted from Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2005). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.)
2nd edition - 2011 - also available in the Lamar Soutter Library)


The Well-Built Clinical Question:
From the "Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice" website by Duke University Medical Center Library and Health Sciences Library at UNC, Chapel Hill.

Construct Well-Built Clinical Questions Using PICO
From the University of Washington’s Health Sciences Libraries webpage, HealthLinks.

PICO:  Asking Focused Clinical Questions
From the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, Toronto

The Clinical Question - Video Tutorial
From Yale University Medical Library