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PhD in Translational Health Sciences: Framing the Question

Introduction to library and information resources for students studying for a PhD in the translational sciences.

What is PICO?

According to the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM), well-formed clinical questions are essential in practicing EBM. "To benefit patients and clinicians, such questions need to be both directly relevant to patients' problems and phrased in ways that direct your search to relevant and precise answers." - CEBM, University of Toronto, Asking Focused Questions

The PICO model is a tool that can help you formulate a good clinical question. Sometimes it's referred to as PICO-T, containing an optional 5th factor. 


 P - Patient, Population, or Problem What are the most important characteristics of the patient? How would you describe a group of patients similar to yours?
 I - Intervention, Exposure, Prognostic Factor What main intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure are you considering? What do you want to do for the patient (prescribe a drug, order a test, etc.)?
 C - Comparison What is the main alternative to compare with the intervention? 
 O - Outcome What do you hope to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect?
 T - Time Factor, Type of Study (optional)  


PICO Resources

Asking an Answerable Question (Cochrane Library)

PICO Worksheet (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Well Built Clinical Question (PICO) Worksheet  (East Tennessee State University)

Tutorial on PICO