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Answered By: Ashley Guy, Nursing Librarian
Last Updated: Jul 11, 2018     Views: 2506

PICO is a mnemonic device used in nursing that helps a person remember the components of a well focused clinical question. It is a strategy used in the first step of Evidence Based Practice (EBP) to assess and ask when researching to formulate a searchable clinical question by helping to develop key terms.

P

Patient, Population, or Problem

What are the most important characteristics of the patient; include the primary problem, disease, or co-existing conditions.

I

Intervention

What do you want to do for the patient? Prescribe a drug, order a test or surgery?

C

Comparison

Are you trying to decide between two drugs, a drug, no medication/placebo or diagnostic tests? You do not always have to have a specific comparison.

O

Outcome

What do you hope to accomplish, measure, improve for the patient? What are you trying to do to affect the patient positively?

 

PICO Search Strategy Example Case:

Patient A is receiving chemotherapy and to manage the moderate nausea and vomiting the doctor has given them prochlorperazin.  The patient calls the nurse line and tells you that they have read that ginger is just as effective as the prochlorperazin and is wondering if this is true. 

P

Patient, Population, or Problem

Patient receiving chemotherapy and is experiencing moderate nausea and vomiting.

I

Intervention

Use of ginger

C

Comparison

Effective as procholorperazin

O

Outcome

Reduce the moderate nausea and vomiting

Formulated Question:

In patients receiving chemotherapy who are experiencing moderate nausea and vomiting is the use of ginger as effective as prochlorperazin in reducing it?