PICO Research Question

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Text of PICO Research Question

  • 1. How to formulate an answerable research question?
    Using the PICO model to formulate a search question
  • 2. Hierarchy of Evidence
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5. Why are research questions important?
    Well-crafted questions guide the systematic planning of research. Formulating your questions precisely enables you to design a study with a good chance of answering them.
    -- Light, Singer, Willett, By Design (1990)
  • 6. Start at the beginning
    A good research project generally begins in the mind of the doctor.
    Most research questions are too broad at first. The narrower the focus, the easier the question is to research.
  • 7. An example of a research question
    What is the usefulness or accuracy of the current 1-10 pain scale assessment in treating a patients pain, and what are other options that may prove more useful?
    Is this question researchable?
  • 8. Characteristics of a Good Study Question
    F= Feasible
    I= Interesting
    N= Novel
    E= Ethical
    R= Relevant
  • 9. Asking the Question
    The PICO format:
    P Population
    IIntervention or Interest area
    CComparison intervention or status
  • 10. What is PICO?
    A useful model to help structure an answerable question
    Used to formulate clinical questions
    Breaks down the question into four key elements
  • 11.
  • 12. Patient, Population, Problem
    Patient or patient group (gender, race, age)
    Disease or condition
    Stage of the illness
    Care setting
  • 13. Intervention
    Type of treatment (drug, procedure, therapy)
    Intervention level (dosage, frequency)
    Stage of intervention (preventative, early, advanced)
    Delivery (who delivers the intervention? where?)
  • 14. Comparison
    Alternative interventions (standard treatment, placebo, another intervention)
    There may not always be a comparison
  • 15. Outcome
    The outcome or effects you are interested in, for example
    Improvement of symptoms, healing
    Side effects
    Improved quality of life
    Cost effectiveness and benefits for the service provider
  • 16. Remember
    Including more search terms will narrow your search
    Use for very specific questions and larger databases to make number of results more manageable
    For a broader search, less specific details are needed
    Use for broader questions and smaller databases which bring back fewer results
  • 17. A good research question will
    be clearly linked to overall project goal
    allow the target population to be identified
    guide the appropriate choice of study subjects
  • 18. A good research question will
    identify the outcome variables and key predictors of those variables
    determine what type of study is needed (e.g. descriptive, relational, experimental)
    identify background characteristics that might influence outcomes
  • 19. A good research question will
    raise questions about how to best collect data
    influence the number of participants in the study
  • 20.
    • Is it interesting?
    • 21. Is it researchable?
    • 22. Is it significant?
    • 23. Is it manageable?