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Nursing: PICOT Questions

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Formulating a PICOT Question

A PICOT question helps you clearly define the scope of your research efforts.

PICOT is an acronym describing the elements of a good clinical research question:

  • P: Population or Patient

Described by disorder, age group, gender, ethnicity, race, etc.

  • I: Intervention or Issue of Interest

What procedure are you studying?  This could be a treatment method, behavior pattern, etc.

  • C: Comparison or Control

This might be current practice, an alternate treatment, doing nothing. It's what you're comparing against.

  • O: Outcome

This is affected by the intervention. It's usually measurable, for example rate of infection, risk of injury, response to treatment, etc.

  • T: Time element

What time frame are you interested in? Sometimes you don't need to state this explicitly.


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