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Evidence Based Practice

Searching for evidence: develop a well-formed clinical question

To search for evidence-based information, you first need to develop a well-formed clinical question. The PICO search framework can help you do this.

PICO stands for:

   Patient, Population or Problem
           What are the characteristics of the patient or population?
           What is the condition or disease you are interested in?

   Intervention or exposure
           What do you want to do with this patient (e.g. treat, diagnose, observe)?

   Comparison
           What is the alternative to the intervention (e.g. placebo, different drug, surgery)?

   Outcome
           What are the relevant outcomes (e.g. morbidity, death, complications)?

See an example in the right hand box.

Example search

Here are some helpful documents from the Purdue University Libraries Guide on Evidence Based Practice                                                                    

Searching for the evidence: develop an effective search strategy

Once you have established your focused clinical question, you then need to convert it into an effective search strategy. Use this PICO worksheet to assist in the process. This involves identifying:

  • Keywords or synonyms
  • Type of study
  • Which database/s to search