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NUR 361 - Evidence-Based Practice

A research guide for students in the NUR 361 online class

PICO Framework

Patient / Population


Comparison (often "no intervention" or "usual care")


Additional variables (PICOT, PICOS, PICOTS, PICOTTS):

  • Timeframe
  • Type of study
  • Setting

Other frameworks for clinical questions

Researching Your Question

Clinical questions are not answered by the nursing research literature alone. The evidence (findings of published research studies) must be integrated with clinical expertise and patient preference in order to be applied in practice. 

Search the literature systematically to find available evidence:

  • explore multiple databases
  • consider different ways to describe the essential elements of your topic using keywords and controlled vocabulary terms (e.g., MeSH terms/headings)
  • search concepts separately to reveal limiting variables
  • combine concepts strategically to narrow your topic
  • use database limiters/filters thoughtfully (do not overuse!)
  • apply inclusion/exclusion criteria as you skim result lists instead of including too many concepts in one search
  • Schedule a research appointment to explore the literature with a database navigation expert!

PICO Examples

These pages will help you brainstorm ideas for PICO topics and question formatting: