Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Focusing Clinical Questions
PICO is a format that helps construct an answerable questions and devise a strategy for searching for evidence. The PICO question has 4 parts.
Information about the patient e.g. age, diagnosis, other important criteria
Treatment, exposure, diagnostic test
Comparison treatment, exposure, diagnostic test (usually gold standard)
What you are trying to measure or see improvement in.
Patient - adults with acute bronchitis
Intervention - antibiotics
Comparison - inhaled albuterol
Outcome - earlier improvement in clinical symptoms
Full PICO question:
Do adults with acute bronchitis who are treated with antibiotics have improved clinical symptoms earlier compared to those who are given inhaled albuterol?
- Be as specific as possible when constructing your question.
- Although many questions are treatment questions, PICO questions can be constructed for diagnosis and other types of questions too.
More information about PICO
Need to see more examples of PICO questions? Use this worksheet from Sonoma State University to help you structure your PICO question. (Word doc)