Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Ask A Librarian

Health Sciences Center- Eastern: Research & Publishing Resources

Creating Your Research Question Using the PICOT Framework

Formulating a clear, well-defined question is key to is one of the most important steps in the research process. Creating a research question takes time and you may go through different versions until settling on the right one.  A research question framework can help structure your question.  

PICO/T is an acronym which stands for

  • P       Population/Problem
  • I        Intervention/Exposure
  • C       Comparison
  • O      Outcome
  • T       Time

Each PICO includes at least a P, I, and an O, and some include a C or a T. Below are some sample PICO/T questions to help you use the framework to your advantage. 


For an intervention/therapy

In _______(P), what is the effect of _______(I) on ______(O) compared with 

Visual representation of the PICO/T Question Framework. text reads: P - Population/Problem; I - Intervention/Exposure; C - Comparison; O - Outcome; T - Time

_______(C) within ________ (T)?

For etiology

Are ____ (P) who have _______ (I) at ___ (Increased/decreased) risk for/of_______ (O) compared with ______ (P) with/without ______ (C) over _____ (T)?

Diagnosis or diagnostic test

Are (is) _________ (I) more accurate in diagnosing ________ (P) compared with ______ (C) for _______ (O)?

Prevention

For ________ (P) does the use of ______ (I) reduce the future risk of ________ (O) compared with _________ (C)?

Prognosis/Predictions

Does __________ (I) influence ________ (O) in patients who have _______ (P) over ______ (T)?

Meaning

How do ________ (P) diagnosed with _______ (I) perceive ______ (O) during _____ (T)?

Melnyk B., & Fineout-Overholt E. (2010). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

References

Ghezzi-Kopel, Kate. (2019, September 16). Developing your research question. (research guide). Retrieved from https://guides.library.cornell.edu/systematic_reviews/research_question