Developing your research question is one of the most important steps in the review process. At this stage in the process, you and your team have identified a knowledge gap in your field and are aiming to answer a specific question, such as
OR assess an intervention
OR synthesize the existing evidence
Whatever your aim, formulating a clear, well-defined research question of appropriate scope is key to a successful review. The research question will be the foundation of your review and from it your research team will identify 2-5 possible search concepts. These search concepts will later be used to build your search strategy.
Formulating a research question takes time and your team may go through different versions until settling on the right research question. A research question framework can help structure your systematic review question.
PICO/T is an acronym which stands for
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
_______(C) within ________ (T)?
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)?
For ________ (P) does the use of ______ (I) reduce the future risk of ________ (O) compared with _________ (C)?
Does __________ (I) influence ________ (O) in patients who have _______ (P) over ______ (T)?
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.
Ghezzi-Kopel, Kate. (2019, September 16). Developing your research question. (research guide). Retrieved from https://guides.library.cornell.edu/systematic_reviews/research_question