PICO(S): A Framework to Build Your Focused EBM Clinical Question

What is PICOS

What is PICO(S)?

PICO(S) is an acronym for a framework designed to help you build a focused Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) clinical question which you want to answer in the care of your patients.

Originally published in 1995 by Richardson, et. al., one can find a few variations of the original PICO model. I have listed the version I like to use below:

Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome and Study design and type


Increasingly, I am trying to use the PICOS framework to create my 'well built' focused clinical when I am searching for an article.

I also sometimes use PICOS as a framework to concisely summarize in a structured manner what I learned from reading an article.

The framework is intuitive and easy to use and is meant to guide ones thinking for sharpening a clinical question.


Related Resources


Richardson WS, Wilson MC, Nishikawa J, Hayward RS. The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence-based decisions. ACP J Club. 1995 Nov–Dec;123(3):A12–3. [ACP Journal Club]

Huang, X., Lin, J., & Demner-Fushman, D. (2006). Evaluation of PICO as a Knowledge Representation for Clinical Questions. AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, 2006, 359–363. [Pubmed]

Jamaevidence.mhmedical.com. (2016). Education Guides. [online] Available at: http://jamaevidence.mhmedical.com/edguides.aspx [Accessed 11 Apr. 2016].

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