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An online library guide dedicated to assisting all individuals from the Mennonite College of Nursing with their research and information needs.

PICO(T) Question

In the nursing field, it is accepted practice to formulate our research questions using the PICO(T) question. This page offers a guide to the different parts of the PICO(T) question as well as how to start developing one on your own!

Population (P) – what individual or group are we interested in studying?
Intervention (I) – what is the action (intervention, treatment, etc.) we are considering taking?
Comparison (C) – to what other action (intervention, treatment, etc.) are we comparing the considered action?
Outcome (O) – what do we anticipate as the outcome?
Time (T) – how long will it take to reach the outcome?

  • Note:  not all PICO(T) questions require the "TIME" component 

Potential PICO(T) Question Formats

In__[Population]__, how does __[Intervention]__ compared to __[Comparison]__ affect __[Outcome]__ within __[Time]__ ?

In__[Population]__, how does __[Intervention]__ compared to __[Comparison]__ influence/predict __[Outcome]__ over __[Time]__ ?

In__[Population]__, are/is __[Intervention]__ compared with __[Comparison]__ more accurate in diagnosing __[Outcome]__?

Are __[Population]__, who have  __[Intervention]__ compared with those without __[Comparison]__ at risk for/of  __[Outcome]__ over __[Time]__ ?

Sample PICO Question

Scenario:  A committee decides to conduct a case study to determine whether postoperative gum chewing for abdominal surgery patients can prevent postoperative ileus (lack of intestinal movement).

  • P – Patients recovering from abdominal surgery
  • I – Gum chewing
  • C – Not chewing gum
  • O – Impacts post-operative ileus

PICO Question: “In patients recovering from abdominal surgery, is there evidence that suggests gum-chewing postoperatively, compared to not chewing gum, impacts postoperative ileus?”

Questions? Contact me!

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Laura Killingsworth
Room 515
Subjects: Nursing

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