Skip to Main Content

Nursing Students Subject Guide

PICO Question Format

PICO is a framework for developing a clinical research question. Each letter of "PICO" represents a different element of the question.

P = Patient or Problem (What are the main characteristics of the patient or group of patients being studied?)

I = Intervention (What is your intervention - or exposure - of interest?)

C = Comparison, if applicable (Is there an alternative intervention or goldmark standard to compare?)

O = Outcome of Interest (What is the outcome you're interested in achieving or studying?)


Example of a PICO question.

Scenario: The hospital staff has called you in for a wound consult. A middle aged man has been admitted with diabetic foot ulcers. You need to decide between treating the patient with negative wound pressure therapy or with moist wound therapy (which is considered the goldmark standard.)

P: middle aged man with diabetic foot ulcers

I: negative pressure wound therapy

C: moist wound therapy

O: improved wound healing

*Question adapted from UNC PICO Examples:

Video on Creating a PICO Question