What does PICO mean?
The first stage of any evidence-based practice process is formulating an answerable question. This forms the foundation for quality searching. A well-formulated question will facilitate the search for evidence and will assist you in determining whether the evidence is relevant to your question.
An answerable question has a format that follows the PICO concept. The acronym translates to:
P (patient/population/problem) I (intervention/indicator) C (comparison/control) O (Outcome)
P – Populations/People/Patient/Problem
What are their most important characteristics?
Describe your patient specifically:
ALWAYS include this piece in your search.
I – Intervention(s)
What do you want to do for the patient?
Almost always include this piece in your search.
C – Comparison
What is the alternate intervention, if any?
It is less common to include this piece in a search.
O – Outcome
What are you hoping to achieve, measure, or change for the patient?
Could also be the result NOT desired.
Sometimes include this piece in your search.