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PICOT

What is a PICOT Question?

The PICOT question format is a consistent “formula” for developing answerable, researchable questions. When you write a good one, it makes the rest of the process of finding and evaluating evidence much more straightforward.

  • P: Population/patient – age, gender, ethnicity, individuals with a certain disorder
  • I: Intervention/indicator (Variable of Interest) – exposure to a disease, risk behavior, prognostic factor

  • C: Comparison/control – could be a placebo or “business as usual” as in no disease, absence of risk factor, Prognostic factor B

  • O: Outcome – risk of disease, accuracy of a diagnosis, rate of occurrence of adverse outcome

  • T: Time – the time it takes for the intervention to achieve an outcome or how long participants are observed

Note: Not every question will have an intervention (as in a meaning question) or time (when it is implied in another part of the question) component.

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