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EBM Conference for Child Health: Asking the question

Resources for the weekly Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) Conference in Child Health at the University of Missouri.

About PICO

PICO is a format that helps you to construct an answerable clinical question and devise a strategy for searching for evidence.

The PICO question has 4 parts:

Patient - information about the patient e.g. age, diagnosis, other important criteria

Intervention - treatment, exposure, diagnostic test

Comparison - comparison treatment, exposure, diagnostic test (usually gold standard).

Outcome - what you are trying to measure or see improvement in


PICO Example

Patient - infants with bronchiolitis

Intervention - nebulized hypertonic saline

Comparison - supportive care

Outcome - reduced length of hospital stay


Full PICO question:

In infants with bronchiolitis, does nebulized hypertonic saline reduce length of hospital stay compared to supportive care?

More information about PICO

PICO tips

  • Be as specific as possible when constructing your question.
  • Although many questions are treatment questions, PICO questions can be constructed for diagnosis and other types of questions too.