Skip to Main Content


Nursing - Evidence-Based Practice

What is PICO?


How would I describe a group of patients similar to mine?

  • This may include the primary problem, disease, or co-existing conditions. Sometimes the gender, age or race of a patient might be relevant to the diagnosis or treatment of a disease.
Intervention/Prognostic Factor/Exposure

Which main intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure am I considering?

  • What do you want to do for the patient? Prescribe a drug? Order a test? Order surgery? Or what factor may influence the prognosis of the patient - age, co-existing problems, or previous exposure? 

What is the main alternative to compare with the intervention?

  • Are you trying to decide between two drugs, a drug and no medication or placebo, or two diagnostic tests? Your clinical question may not always have a specific comparison.
Outcome you would like to measure or achieve

What can I hope to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect?

  • What are you trying to do for the patient? Relieve or eliminate the symptoms? Reduce the number of adverse events? Improve function or test scores?
What type of question are you asking? Diagnosis, Etiology/Harm, Therapy, Prognosis, Prevention
Type of study you want to find? What would be the best study design/methodology?