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Tips for Using PICO

What is PICO, PICO template and CINAHL tips to save you time and get the sources you need.

What is PICO?

""PICO is a framework you can use to formulate an effective research question and search strategy that can help you focus and be thorough in your research. 

  • P Population/patient/problem
  • I Intervention or treatment
  • C Comparison
  • O  Outcome

CINAHL Options to Limit for PICO

CINAHL limits can help with your PICO question. 

  1. Type in your search term
  2. Limit to Research Article and/or Peer Reviewed
  3. You may also want to use the full text limit 
  4. You may have to experiment to see which option gives you the best results. Some limits will be more effective than others depending on your main subject. 
  5. Keep in mind that you most likely will have to use multiple articles to answer each aspect of your PICO. It would be rare to find each aspect of your PICO in a single article. 

Limit Options for PICO

  • There are multiple limits in advanced search that can help with population: 
    • Age Groups
    • Sex
    • Human
    • Inpatient
    • Outpatient
    • Pregnancy
  • Special Interest Limits
    Options here  might help with any of PICO. Here are a few of the options available: 
    • Gerontological Care
    • Nutrition
    • Pain and Pain Management
    • Patient Safety
    • Quality assurance 
  • Try the Clinical Queries limit
    Therapy and prognosis may help with intervention and outcome
    • Therapy - High Sensitivity (broader)
    • Therapy - High Specificity (narrower)
    • Therapy - Best Balanced (balanced between sensitivity and specificity)
    • Prognosis - High Sensitivity (broader)
    • Prognosis - High Specificity (narrower)
    • Prognosis - Best Balanced (balanced between sensitivity and specificity)