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Evidence-Based Practice: A Guide to Finding the Evidence

Evidence-Based Practice Resources

Guides to Formulating Clinical Questions

Bermudez. (2021). Formulating Well-Written Clinical Practice Questions and Research Questions. Nursing & Health Sciences Research Journal, 4(1), 70–82.

De Brún, & Pearce-Smith, N. (2014). Formulating searchable questions. In Searching Skills Toolkit (pp. 37–40). John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

The PICO Framework

Forming your research question is a crucial step towards finding research that informs evidence-based practice. once you have a well-thought out question, it is easier to identify the keywords and phrases you will use when you are searching for evidence. A commonly used framework for asking clinical questions is called PICO. These are the key components of a PICO question:

P=person, population, problem, condition.

I=intervention, issue, exposure, diagnostic test, prognostic factors.

C=comparison test, comparative exposure or intervention. Note: your clinical question may not always include a comparison.

O=consequence of applying intervention, exposure, or diagnostic test.


  Jewell. (2023). Guide to evidence-based physical therapist practice (Fifth edition.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.


Examples of PICO Questions

The following examples of PICO questions are based on systematic reviews from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Among patients who have Parkinson's, (P) is speech therapy (I) associated with improved communication (O) compared to no intervetion (C)?

Example from:

Herd, C. P., Tomlinson, C. L., Deane, K., Brady, M. C., Smith, C. H., Sackley, C. M., & Clarke, C. E. (2012). Speech and language therapy versus placebo or no intervention for speech problems in Parkinson's disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (8)10.1002/14651858.CD002812.pub2

For patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (P), what are the benefits and harms (O] of using wrist splints(I)?

Example from:

Karjalainen, T. V., Lusa, V., Page, M. J., O'Connor, D., Massy-Westropp, N., & Peters, S. E. (2023). Splinting for carpal tunnel syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2)10.1002/14651858.CD010003.pub2

In patients with acute pancreatitis (P), is enteral nutrition (I) associated with lower mortality and risk of infection ()) than parenteral nutritional support (C)?

Example from:

Al‐Omran, M., AlBalawi, Z. H., Tashkandi, M. F., & Al‐Ansary, L. A. (2010). Enteral versus parenteral nutrition for acute pancreatitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1)10.1002/14651858.CD002837.pub2

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