Answered By: Health Sciences Reference Account
Last Updated: Aug 07, 2018     Views: 354

PICO (alternately known as PICOT) is a mnemonic used to describe the four elements of a good clinical question. It stands for:


Many people find that it helps them clarify their question, which in turn makes it easier to find an answer. 

  1. Instructions for formulating a PICO question can be found here. You will also find example questions that have already been written. A PICO question template can be found here.

Need help finding articles for your PICO question? Start by searching for your P (patient/problem) and I (Intervention). Need more help? Check out PICO Linguist published by the NLM.

Contact us at for further assistance! 

PICO Widget.

Below widget is available to do a quick lookup in some of the Ovid databases for your PICO question. Please note this is not a replacement for a precision search finding all results for your query, but it will give you a good indication if you are on the right track formulating your PICO.

Example PICO*: Prevention (O) of Whooping Cough (P) in adults (P) using vaccination (I)

* not all elements are required. In this example the C is not used

P: Patient, Population, Problem or disease
    who are the patients, what is the problem
I: Intervention or Issue
    what we do to them, what are they exposed to
C: Comparison intervention or issue
    what do we compare the intervention with
O: Outcome
    what happens, what is the outcome