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Nursing: PICOT

A guide to research for nursing students.

What is PICOT?

To formulate questions in Evidence Based Practice, use the PICOT format.

PICOT stands for:

  • Population/ Patient Problem: Who is your patient? (Disease or Health status, age, race, sex)
  • Intervention: What do you plan to do for the patient? (Specific tests, therapies, medications)
  • Comparison: What is the alternative to your plan? (ie. No treatment, different type of treatment, etc.)
  • Outcome: What outcome do you seek? (Less symptoms, no symptoms, full health, etc.)
  • Time:  What is the time frame? (This element is not always included.)

Your PICOT question will fall under one of these types:

  • Therapy/Prevention
  • Diagnosis
  • Etiology
  • Prognosis

The documents in the box on the left to find which level of research is appropriate for your type of PICOT question.