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.

PICO: Creating a PICO Query

Describes the PICO interface and how to use it effectively.

Printable PDF
CINAHL Guide

Creating a PICO Query

Begin with your research question, such as:

In adults with chronic migraine pain, will meditation or relaxation exercises manage pain better than major over-the-counter pain relievers?

PICO, an acronym for "patient, intervention, comparison, outcome," is a technique for formulating a question and inputting it into medical databases, such as Medline or CINAHL. It helps you think more clearly and input a better query. Some databases have a PICO interface, such as Medline. Others, like CINAHL, do not.

 

Explanation of the PICO structure
Definition Description
P=Patient or Problem       Adults with chronic migraine pain

 

 
I=Intervention Meditation or relaxation exercises

 

 
C=Comparative intention    Over-the-counter pain relievers

 

 
O=Outcome manage pain

 

Now expand on your ideas with additional terms, as able. Consider synonyms or specific drugs, procedures, etc.

 

Implementing the PICO structure
Definition Description Example
P=Patient or Problem     Adults with chronic migraine pain Chronic migraine

 

   
I=Intervention Meditation or relaxation exercises Meditation or relaxation or biofeedback

 

   
C=Comparative intention   Over-the-counter pain relievers Aspirin or ibuprofen or naproxen or acetaminophen

 

   
O=Outcome   manage pain pain management or pain control

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Lisa Bartle
Contact:
PL-053E
909-537-7552