Nursing PICOT Questions

Clinicians often witness impressive treatment results in practice and may wish to pursue research to formally explore their anecdotal experiences. The potential to further new knowledge both within the profession and to the greater healthcare system is compelling. An obvious next step for a practitioner considering research is to connect with experienced researchers to convey their idea for a study, who may in turn ask, “What is your research question?” 

Evidence-based models use a process for framing a question, locating, assessing, evaluating, and repeating as needed. PICOT is an acronym to help you formulate a clinical question and guide your search for evidence. Using this format can help you find the best evidence available in a quicker, more efficient manner. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a systematic approach to patient care decision-making based on current, best available evidence. The first step in EBP involves re-phrasing your clinical scenario in the form of a focused, searchable, and answerable clinical question. The PICOT model is a framework to help you accomplish this step.

A well-built PICOT question can help you identify terms to use in your database search in order to efficiently retrieve highly relevant evidence.

PICOT is an acronym that is used to represent the clinical question:

(P) Patient population, or group of patients of interest

(I) Intervention, treatment, or issue of interest

(C) Comparison or alternative intervention, or issue of interest

(O) Outcome(s) of interest

(T) Time for intervention to achieve or demonstrate the outcome.

Before formulating a PICOT question, you may often begin by asking background and foreground questions…

  • Background questions are broad or general questions about a clinical problem or disease. This can be found in found in sources such as:· reference book entries or selected Ebooks/Encyclopedias in the health sciences· textbooks, chapters, appendices· drug monographs, guides to diagnostic tests, and ebook drug guides.
  • Foreground questions are specific to a disease or clinical issue – PICOT is a strategy for shaping a foreground question. They seek evidence to answer a need for clinical information related to a specific patient, an intervention or therapy.

Lets take a look at some examples:

In _________(P), how does __________ (I) compared to _________ (C) influence _________ (O) over ________ (T)?

This clinical question can be phrased as:

In patients ages 55 and older, how does the use of an influenza vaccine compared to not receiving the vaccine influence their risk of developing pneumonia during the flu season?

Another format for a PICOT question would be:

In cancer patients with fatigue (P), does yoga (I), as compared to usual care (C), reduce symptoms of fatigue (O) within 6 months after implementation (T)?

Let us look at the steps involved in formulating a PICOT question

Step 1: Frame the question by writing out your information need in the form of a question

Step 2: Plan a search strategy by identifying the major elements of your question, and translate natural language terms to subject descriptors, MeSH terms, or descriptors. 

Step 3: After viewing the initial search results you may decide to narrow your search with terms for the Comparison, Outcome, Time factors or Type of study. Or you may view results, abstracts, and full text of articles to view the comparison and outcome elements. Use database filters, explained in Filtering the Evidence.

The PICOT nursing questions set the foundation for studies involving large populations of people. Since studies are often costly and patients often receive some sort of treatment or observation, it is important that each study is carefully planned out. The PICOT questions set forth guidelines for what should be in every study design and proposal so that feasibility and benefit to the field can be assessed.

Some of the features and difficulties of PICOT nursing questions include:

  • Accumulating research in the field to formulate the basis of the study. Scientific literature and research has greatly expanded over the years and has evolved at a rapid pace. It is important to find a question that is unique and unanswered, yet still relevant to the field. This will necessitate rigorous searching in scientific databases to ensure the question is valid.
  • Understanding the biological basis of diseases/indicators. In order to propose a study, the writer must also understand some of the biological rationale behind correlating two variables in order to present a more logical and sound argument for conducting the study.
  • Logical arguments for each part of the proposal. Every indicator of PICOT must be carefully researched and discussed, including why the number of patients is what it is, why the indicator will be measured as it is, and why the duration of the study is as proposed. Each of these must be answered concisely and in professional manner while still being organized.

Do You Need Help with PICOT Nursing Questions?

PICOT is a mnemonic that stands for Population/Patient Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, Time, and is used in nursing evidence based practice to formulate clinical research questions. It is the first step in the evidence based practice process and critical to its success.

A PICOT question will fall into one of four categories: therapy/prevention, diagnosis, etiology or prognosis. Learning how to properly formulate a PICOT question is necessary in order to conduct a proper search for the sources you need. If you are having difficulty writing PICOT questions for nursing or PICO questions nursing, our company provides a service that can help.

We Provide Assistance with Nursing PICOT Questions

Knowing the correct way to formulate questions is one of the keys to evidence based practice for nursing. Our company provides a service that can assist you with formulating PICOT questions correctly.

Our service can assist you with every part of the PICOT question. Our experts can advise you and provide guidance on the best way to formulate your questions. We can also proofread and edit questions you have already developed. We also offer PICOT question samples on any nursing topic that you can use as a guide for developing your own. Our samples are all originally written by our experts.


Nursing PICOT question sample paper 1

Nursing PICOT paper Sample 2

Nursing PICOT paper Sample 3

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