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Foreground Questions:

Foreground questions are questions that ask for specific knowledge to guide clinical decisions. It is the seeking of evidence to answer for clinical information related to a specific patient/problem, an intervention therapy.  Using PICO(T) will help you focus on the elements of your question.

The acronym of PICO translates to the following:

  • = Problem/patient/population
  • I = Intervention
  • C = Comparison‚Äč
  • = Outcome
  • = Time (optional)

Why should you use PICO(T)?

  • PICO helps you form a more focused question that will return relevant results
  • It makes searches more precise giving you a manageable amount of results
  • Gives you additional ideas on new terminology and synonyms to use 

  • P = Patient/Problem

    Description of the patient - describe some characteristics? 

    Gender, age, ethnicity.  What is the primary problem, disease or condition?

    I = Intervention

    What do you want to do for the patient or problem?

    Is there a particular intervention you have in mind in trying out?

    C = Comparison

    Are there standard or alternative treatments that you can compare with to the intervention?

    *Not all clinical questions will have a comparison*

    O = Outcome

    What do you hope to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect? 

    PICO Example

    Example of a PICO question:

    Does hand washing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infections?

    P hospital acquired infection
    I hand washing
    C no hand washing, other solutions
    O reduced infection

    NOTE: It is not required to include all aspects of your PICO search.  If your search is too specific you might be restricting yourself to a limited number of results in your searches.