The PICO process (or framework) is a mnemonic used in evidence based practice (and specifically Evidence Based Medicine) to frame and answer a clinical or health care related question. The PICO framework is also used to develop literature search strategies, for instance in systematic reviews. The PICO acronym stands for
- P – Patient, Problem or Population
- I – Intervention
- C – Comparison, control or comparator
- O – Outcome(s) (e.g. pain, fatigue, nausea, infections, death)
Alternatives such as SPICE and PECO (among many others) can also be used. Some authors suggest adding T and S, as follows:
- T - Timing, duration or date of publication (e.g. measured at 1-month of follow-up, published between 1990 and 2000)
- S - Study type (e.g. randomized controlled trial, cohort study, etc.)
- Population = Children with headaches; keywords = children + headache
- Intervention = Paracetamol; keyword = paracetamol
- Compared with = Placebo; keyword = placebo
- Outcome of interest = Pain; keyword = pain
- Huang X, Lin J, Demner-Fushman D (2006). "Evaluation of PICO as a knowledge representation for clinical questions" (PDF). AMIA Annu Symp Proc: 359–63. PMC 1839740. PMID 17238363.
- Schardt C, Adams MB, Owens T, Keitz S, Fontelo P (2007). "Utilization of the PICO framework to improve searching PubMed for clinical questions". BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 7: 16. doi:10.1186/1472-6947-7-16. PMC 1904193. PMID 17573961.
- "Asking a Good Question (PICO)". 17 November 2004. Retrieved 2010-05-18.
- Richardson, WS (1995). "The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence based-decisions". APC Journal Club. 123, 3: A12–A13.
- "Chapter 2. Systematic Review Methods -- AHRQ Technical Reviews and Summaries -- NCBI Bookshelf". Retrieved 2010-05-18.
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