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PHRM 832: Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine

This guide is intended to be used in supporting the work of the PHRM 832: Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine class, taught by James Nawarskas.

What is PICO?

PICO is a way to frame your research questions with effective searching in mind. It allows you to pull key terms/concepts out to focus your search. PICO stands for:

  • Patient/Problem
  • Intervention
  • Comparison
  • Outcome

Occasionally you will also see:

  • T for Time element

Check mark icon.Quick Tip: Start with Patient/Problem and Intervention in your initial search and you can look for the Comparison and Outcome when you browse abstracts and full text articles. If you are getting a large amount of articles in this initial search you can of course add the additional factors, but many times adding the Comparison and Outcome too early can lead to elimination of important resources.

How to Search Using PICO

Now that you know what PICO is, see Creating an Effective Search to find out how to search a database or search engine most effectively to find your evidence-based resources.


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Leah Everitt
Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center
Room 215