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Dental Health Resources: Clinical Questions (PICO)

A guide for Dental Health students emphasizing their research and EBDM.

Using your PICO question to help gather evidence

Use the different PICO categories to help you develop keywords and other terminology to aid your research

Are there other ways to refer to your PICO categories?

Formulating a PICO question

(from UTEP Library) -- A guide on creating a PICO Questions. 

More help with PICO

Use PICO(T) to ask a Clinical Question

  • P = Patient, Population or Problem
  • I = Intervention, Prognostic Factor, or Exposure
  • C = Comparison (optional)
  • O = Outcome
  • (T = Time)

Asking the right question will help you with research.

Clinical questions

Clinical questions typically fall into one of four main categories:

  • Etiology (or harm/risk factors): What causes the problem?
  • Diagnosis: Does this patient have this problem?
  • Therapy: What is the best treatment for this problem?
  • Prognosis: What will the outcome of the problem be?


-- Does twice-daily chlorhexidine rinse (I) in young adults (P) reduce the severity of gingivitis (O), compared to personal oral hygiene alone (C)?

-- Does behavioral therapy (I) reduce temporomandibular pain (P) more effectively (O) than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (I)?

-- Does daily patient flossing (I) reduce the incidence of periodontal bone loss in healthy adults (O) compared to daily patient brushing only (C)?