Before we get into PICOT Question Examples, let’s define a PICOT question. PICOT is an acronym that can help you create a clinical inquiry and lead your evidence search. This style can help you identify the best evidence faster and more efficiently. The PICOT question format is a standardized “formula” for creating researchable, responsive questions. When you write a good one, the rest of the process of gathering and analyzing evidence becomes much more accessible.
P: Population/patient – age, gender, ethnicity, persons suffering from a specific disorder
I: Intervention/indicator (Variable of Interest) – illness exposure, risk behavior, prognostic factor
C: Comparison/control – this could be a placebo or “business as usual,” as in no disease, lack of risk factor, or prognostic factor. B
O: Consequence – disease risk, the accuracy of diagnosis, rate of occurrence of the negative outcome
T: Time – the amount of time it takes for an intervention to produce a result or the length of time participants are observed.
Not every question will contain an intervention (as in a meaning question) or a time component (unless mentioned in another portion of the question).
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Evidence-Based PICOT Questions Examples
1. PICOT Question:
Population: Bariatric teenagers thinking about or receiving gastric bypass surgery.
Intervention: The nurse is a primary part of the multidisciplinary team for the bariatric teen patient’s perioperative care.
Comparison: The nurse’s function as a secondary member of the multidisciplinary team with no specialized training and is only involved in the perioperative care of the bariatric teenage patient.
Outcome: The bariatric adolescent patient has more excellent continuity of treatment when the nurse is included as one of the significant members of the multidisciplinary team approach.
Time: perioperative, including the 6 weeks post-recovery.
PICOT Question: Does the bariatric adolescent undergoing gastric bypass have better perioperative and postoperative continuity of care when the nurse is a primary member of the multidisciplinary team versus when the nurse is a secondary member whose only role is to provide perioperative care and has no specialized training?
2. Intervention PICOT Question Examples, an Intervention example:
How successful is PCA pain medication (Intervention of interest) compared to prn IM pain medication (Comparison intervention) in reducing postoperative pain (Outcome) in adult patients with total hip replacements (Patient population) during the perioperative and recovery time? The IM pain medicine would be referred to as the control group. Establishing a control group that did not receive any pain relief would be unethical. Often, the control group receives “business as usual!” or the current level of treatment.
3. Therapy PICOT Question Examples, a non-intervention example:
What is the difference in recovery time (O) between patients with total hip replacement (P) who acquired a postoperative infection (I) and those who did not (C) within the first six weeks of recovery (T)?
4. Etiology PICOT Question Examples:
Is it true that children (P) with obese adoptive parents (I) have a higher risk of obesity (O) than children (P) without fat adoptive parents (C) between the ages of five and 18 (T)?
5. Diagnostic PICOT Question Examples:
Is a PKU test (I) performed on two-week-old newborns (P) more accurate in diagnosing inborn metabolic errors (O) than a PKU test performed at 24 hours of age (C)? In two weeks and 24 hours, time is implied.
6. Prevention PICOT Question Examples:
What are the differences in the presence and types of organisms (O) identified on natural polished nails and nail beds (I) and artificial nails (C) at the time of operation (T) in OR nurses performing a five-minute scrub (P)?
7. Prognosis/Prediction PICOT Question Examples:
Does telemonitoring blood pressure (I) in urban African Americans with hypertension (P) enhance blood pressure control (O) six months after medication initiation (T)?
8. Meaning PPICOT Question Examples:
How do pregnant women (P) who have just been diagnosed with diabetes (I) feel about reporting their blood sugar readings (O) to their healthcare professionals during their pregnancy and six weeks after giving birth (T)?