PICO framework - diagram
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According to Dr. David Sackett, "...evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients". The terms evidence-based health care and evidence-based practice are used as synonyms for evidence-based medicine. In order to help frame the clinical question in evidence-based medicine, PICO is used to assist clinicians and librarians particularly for developing and determining a logical order for search terms. In some cases, the biomedical literature will not produce sufficient evidence that capture complexities of specific patients. All of the evidence must be placed in context, at the bedside or in clinic, with a specific patient in mind. Finding the medical literature and the evidence is one part of EBM process as practitioners draw on their expertise and knowledge and apply it to patients (whose values are a critical part of the EBM process).
PICO (patient/population, intervention, comparison & outcome)
PICO (patient/population, intervention, comparison & outcome) is a framework used by health professionals and health librarians to frame clinical questions. As such, PICO provides help to the clinician in formulating her/his clinical question. Working through your PICO will help you and the clinician write a good clinical question, and develop a good search strategy, which aids in the retrieval of relevant clinical evidence. With PICO, there is more precise direction in searching as the first steps of evidence-based practice (EBP) are negotiated
ECLIPSE was developed to address questions from the health policy and management area (Wildridge and Bell, 2002).
Generally speaking, health librarians use the most relevant terms, keywords and concepts from PICO to find the best evidence. Several resources are available to introduce EBM concepts and to guide you through the process of shaping your information need into a clinical question. For other examples and exercises to learn the framing of the clinical question, see: