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Nursing: PICO(T) Questions

The Research Process

The key to getting your research off to a good start is starting with a solid research approach aimed at addressing your question or problem.  Below is a high level view of the PICO framework (you'll also see the acronyms PICOT, PICCO, or PICCOT but the basic model is below!)  It's a great strategy to break down your questions into "searchable" concepts and to start your research.

Sample Questions

                            PICO Tutorial from ASU-Short!

You Might Want to Try the Question Building Worksheet from John Hopkins                                                                     

Sample PICO Questions-framed in different ways:

Example 1

From your page 920 in your text: Wilkinson, J.M., Treas, L.S., Barnet, K.L., and Smith, M.H., (2020). Davis advantage for fundamentals of nursing: Theory, concepts and applications. (4th ed.,Vol. 1). F.A. Davis. 

Citing pressure injuries observed in a patient who is emaciated they developed the following PICO question:

Patient/Population/Problem Malnourished Adults 
(could be more specific)
Intervention Nutritional Supplementation
Comparison/Control Group No Nutritional Supplementation
Outcome Improved healing time

Searchable Question  Do (P)atients who receive/exposed to__________ (Intervention) demonstrate________ (an Outcome) as Compared with__________.

Example 2

Example 3

Further Examples

You are working with a recent stroke patient who is having balance issues and you are considering using virtual reality in their therapy.

P = recent stroke, balance issues

I = virtual reality

C = no virtual reality

O = improved balance

"In recent stroke patients, how does using virtual reality affect or improve balance?"

Your patient is a recent veteran who is experiencing insomnia and you wonder how effective sleep restriction therapy might be in improving her sleep patterns.

P = insomnia

I = sleep restriction therapy

C = no therapy

O = improved sleep patterns

"In recent veterans with insomnia, how effective is sleep restriction therapy at improving sleep patterns?"



PICO can help you focus on keywords or concepts to use in Library Databases. But PICO(T) does more than that.  PICO (sometimes PICOT, PICCO, or PICCOT) is a foundational framework for asking clinical questions.

Ask a focused clinical question


 Acquire evidence to answer the question

                             Appraise the evidence found for quality and rigor

                              Apply the evidence to patient care

                              Assess the effect of this application on patient outcomes

                                                                                  Improve Patient Outcomes! 

Question Building Worksheet

Question Building Tutorial

Types of Nursing Interventions

Once you have established a clear patient type or problem; a strategy that can help you build your research is to frame intervention.  This overview will give you some ideas of intervention strategies to consider.