This is the "PICO" page of the "Evidence-based Clinical Practice" guide.
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Evidence-based Clinical Practice   Tags: databases, evidence, evidence-based  

A guide to evidence-based chiropractic resources at Palmer and on the web.
Last Updated: May 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

PICO Print Page


PICO is a method for extracting the key concepts from a clinical question.


PICO & Databases

Match your PICO terms to the Advanced Search functions in the medical databases. See the Databases tabs in this guide for more about database access.


The PICO Strategy

PICO stands for: Patient/Problem, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome. When considering a clinical problem, use PICO to analyze the most important concepts to research.


Patient or Problem: Demographic characteristics of the patient such as age, sex; condition or other factor, such as: congestive heart failure, hypoglycemic, smoker, obese


Intervention: Treatment, prognostic factor, exposure, such as a drug, test, surgery, adjustment


Comparison: Are you trying to decide between two treatments/drugs/procedures, etc.? (optional/placebo/”sham”)


Outcome: What is desired for the patient?

Example: A woman asks if giving her 8-year old son Vitamin C or echinacea will prevent him from getting chronic sinus infections.

PICO Analysis:


sinus infection, chronic; child


vitamin C




Lessening/diminishing of sinus infections

When searching the medical literature, the key terms will be: sinus infection, child, vitamin C, and echinacea.

Not all parts of PICO will apply to every clinical question. For example, if the mother only asked about vitamin C, then there would be no comparison term. Or, one can assume that the comparison is a placebo, for example, in a controlled trial.

More Resources for PICO


Highlighted Resource

Cover Art
Symptom to Diagnosis - Scott D. C. Stern; Adam Cifu; Diane Altkorn; Scott Stern
Call Number: RC 71.5 .S74 2010
ISBN: 0071496130
Publication Date: 2009-09-16


Website Disclaimer


Palmer College of Chiropractic is not responsible for the content of the external websites contained in this research guide. The views and opinions of the authors expressed in these external websites do not necessarily state or reflect those of Palmer College of Chiropractic.

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