Example PICO questions

We have now looked at all the elements required to construct a full PICO question.

Below are structured example PICO questions created around the examples from the Identifying clinical questions in practice page for the five different types of clinical question.

Original question: Which diet is best to feed cats with chronic renal disease?
PICO: In [cats with chronic renal disease] does [feeding a renal prescription diet] compared with [not feeding a renal prescription diet] impact on [survival time]?

Original question: Which diagnostic test is most reliable for diagnosing fascioliasis in dairy cattle?
PICO: In [lactating dairy cattle] does [milk ELISA] compared with [serum ELISA] have [a better sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing fascioliasis]?

Original question: Does sex affect survival in flat-coat retrievers with cancer?
PICO: In [flat-coated retrievers with cutaneous lymphoma], does [being a male] compared with [being a female] affect [average life expectancy]?

Original question: What are the risks of general anaesthesia in ferrets?
PICO: In [ferrets], is [general anaesthesia by triple injectable agent] compared with [general anaesthesia by induction and inhalational agent] associated with [an increased risk of death]?

Original question: What is the prevalence of cardiac disorders in Welsh Section A mountain ponies?
PICO: In [horses], does [being a Welsh Section A mountain pony] compared with [being any other breed] increase the [prevalence of cardiac disorders]?

The PICO framework can be applied to most clinical questions, and is easy to use once you have learned its salient principles.

Using a PICO is a way of identifying and working through potential search terms to retrieve the best set of results possible.