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PICOT is an approach for developing a nursing question in a format allowing users to approach different nursing research questions with a benefit of evidence-based practice. It eliminates the potential to assume various inappropriate and including it in the research as it is likely to skew the results to the extent of making them dysfunctional.

PICOT Question Meaning

PICOT is an acronym standing for the following:

P-Population or patient problem: It describes the patient in terms of health status, sex, age and race etc.

I-Intervention: These are the plans for attempting to address the health issues of the patient. These actions include specific tests, medications and therapies.

C-Comparison: Compares alternatives to the plan such as a different type of treatment or an alternative to treating a patient

O-Outcome- Stands for expected results after an intervention. It might be reducing symptoms, eliminating symptoms or attaining full health

T-The 'T' stands for the time it takes for an intervention to achieve the desired outcome or observation of the patients. Time is optional as you can decide to concentrate on PICO only.

A PICOT question falls within one of the intervention:

  • Therapy or prevention
  • Diagnosis
  • Prognosis
  • Etiology

Picot Question Ideas

A PICOT question format idea should be a consistent formula to develop researchable and answerable questions. The process of finding and evaluating evidence will be more straightforward when you create a good PICOT question. PICOT questions should bring multiple concepts that relate to a research topic or a specific clinical situation together. For simple formulation you can have a PICOT question in these two categories:

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Qualitative questions:Aim at gaining an understanding or discover the meaning of phenomena.These questions ask about the experience of a person or population regarding certain circumstances or situations.

Quantitative questions:these are questions that compare two or more individuals sometimes groups based on different outcomes with an aim at discovering the cause and effect relationships. The results of quantitative questions are associated with interventions or exposures.Forming a question using the PICO framework requires deeper thinking about the type of question to ask. It should either focus on therapy, diagnosis, prognosis, etiology or prevention to give the question a particular domain.

PICO Question Examples

It will be a time-consuming and difficult venture to identify the most appropriate resources and find relevant evidence without a well-focused question. PICO helps to form a question and facilitate quick and wider literature search.PICO framework helps to identify the main elements of a question and simplify writing a question statement. These are some examples of PICO questions that fit to the framework.

Example 1:

Does hand washing by healthcare providers reduce transmission of hospital-acquired infections? The question first into PICO elements

P-Hospital-acquired infection

I-Hand washing

C-Alternative to hand washing such as wearing a mask or gloves

O-reducing infection

Example 2:

Do turning bedridden patients reduce the risk of pressure ulcers than pressure mattresses?

P-Pressure ulcers in bedridden patients

I-Turning a patient

C-Pressure mattress

O-Prevent pressure ulcers

Example 3:

How do pregnant women diagnosed with obesity prefer dietary changes or workout to reduce weight during pregnancy and six weeks postpartum?

P-women diagnosed with diabetes

I-Dietary changes

C-Workout

O-Weight loss

T-Six weeks

Conclusion

PICO (T) questions should have four concepts or components that help in making a clinical decision. A PICOT question should compare interventions or actions by healthcare professionals as they care for patients. The purpose is to identify and decide on the most beneficial intervention. Most of the PICO questions address diagnosis and interventions.