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Nurses' Information: PICO

Curated list of books, journals, guidelines, and evidence-based nursing resources for nurses available through Advocate Health - Midwest Library or freely online

Using the PICO Framework to Construct a Question

PICO Framework

The PICO Framework is a useful tool to help you form a question that clearly articulates the major topics in your search. This framework is favored among evidence-based practice (EBP) researchers since the structure can accommodate most clinical research question types (therapy, prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, etiology, etc.)

PICO stands for:

Patient/Population/Problem Intervention Comparison Outcome
Age, condition, gender, geographic location or specific characteristics Treatment, prognostic factor, management strategy, diagnostic test or exposure Control or alternative management strategy you would like to compare to the intervention 

Patient-relevant consequences of the intervention


  • In adults (P) is hydroxyapatite (I) as effective as fluoride (C) in preventing cavities (O)?
  • For adults suffering from depression (P), what is the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort (I) compared to SSRIs (C) in the successful treatment of depression (O)?


There are also other question frameworks you can use depending on your question. These include: CoCoPop, PEO, PFO, SPICE and SPIDER. 

Strength of Evidence