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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)?


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