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Evidence-Based Medicine: Searchable Questions


PICO (+TT) is a mnemonic used to describe the four elements of a good clinical question. It stands for:

  • Patient or Problem
    • What are the characteristics of the patient?
    • What is the condition or disease you are interested in?
  • Intervention or exposure     
    • Which main intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure are you considering?
  • Comparison
    • What is the alternative to the intervention (e.g. placebo, different drug, surgery)?
  • Outcome
    • What can you hope to accomplish, measure, improve or affect?

To make the search for evidence easier, you may want to add TT to the PICO formula. The T's stand for:

  • Type of question
    • therapy, diagnosis, prognosis, harm/etiology or prevention
  • Type of study
    • Systematic review, rct, cohort study, case control study

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