PICO: The elements in more detail

The patient population or disease of interest:

  • With certain disorder (such as arthritis)
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity

The intervention used in the study, if applicable

The alternative to the intervention (such as the comparison) if applicable. BUT

  • For many questions, there is no intervention, only an issue of interest

Outcome of interest for example:

  • Risk of disease
  • Accuracy of diagnosis
  • Rate of occurrence of adverse outcome such as death
  • Attitudes, values, perceptions, experiences

These are some examples of outcome that may be specified. It is important to make your outcome specific, to save wasting search time. However, the tricky part is to be specific enough to avoid wasting time but not so specific that you fail to find potentially useful research. Start by taking a quite narrow focus, then if this doesn’t find enough useful research, try widening your search bit by bit.

Pages developed with the help of Jamie Frankis, Lesley Price, Pauline Hamilton, and Ima Jackson of the School of Health and Life Sciences, GCU