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Nursing Research Resources: Clinical Questions (PICO)

A guide for researching Nursing Information

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?



-- In senior living environments (P), how effective is hands-only CPR (I) vs. hands + breathing CPR (C) at preventing mortality(O)?

-- In the NICU (P), what is the effect of handwashing (I) vs. hand sanitizer use (C) at infection control (O)?

-- In patients with systolic health failure (P), do patients participating in an exercise program (I) have fewer hospital admissions due to heart failure (O) than patients without an exercise program (C)


The PICO guide at the TRIP database may help you in formulating your PICO question.