The first step in performing a Systematic Review is to formulate the research question. Without a well-focused question, it can be very difficult and time consuming to identify appropriate resources and search for relevant evidence. Practitioners of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) often use a specialised framework, called PICO, to form the question and facilitate the literature search.1 PICO stands for:
For Systematic Reviews an additional item, is sometimes added to the framework. The T can stand for :
When forming your question using PICO, keep the following points in mind:
When forming your question using the PICO framework it is useful to think about what type of question it is you are asking, (therapy, prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, etiology). The table below illustrates ways in which Problems, Interventions, Comparisons and Outcomes vary according to the type (domain) of your question.2
1. Schardt, C., Adams, M. B., Owens, T., Keitz, S., & Fontelo, P. (2007). Utilization of the PICO framework to improve searching PubMed for clinical questions. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 7, 16. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6947-7-1
2. Fineout-Overholt, E., & Johnston, L. (2005). Teaching EBP: asking searchable, answerable clinical questions. Worldviews On Evidence-Based Nursing, 2, 157-160.