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PICOT Overview

PICOT is an acronym used to develop an answerable clinical question. In it's most common form, PICOT stands for: 

P: Patient, Population, or Disease

I: Intervention, Exposure, or Topic of Interest 

C: Comparison

O: Outcome

T: Time it takes to demonstrate an outcome 

P: Patient, Population, or Disease

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • People with a diagnosis, disorder, or disease
  • People on a specific unit (e.g. ICU) or receiving a specific treatment (e.g. mechanically ventilated)

I: Intervention, Exposure, or Topic of Interest 

  • Therapy
  • Exposure 
  • Prognostic factor A
  • Risk factor or risk behavior

C: Comparison issue or comparison topic of interest

  • Alternative therapy
  • Placebo
  • No intervention, usual care
  • Prognostic factor B
  • Absence of risk factor or risk behavior 

O: Outcome

  • Outcome from therapy or intervention
  • Risk of disease
  • Accuracy of diagnosis
  • Rate of occurrence of adverse outcomes

T: Time

  • Time it takes for outcome to occur
  • Observation time

Note: Many clinical questions do not include a time factor, so it is OK if your PICO does not have a T

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