What the heck is PICO?! Help for OTs!

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Any time you go on a new adventure, it is helpful to have some type of road map.  Cooking a new dish? You need a recipe.  Putting together an IKEA cabinet?  Instructions (those ones with lots of pictures and no words!).

When I talk to practicing clinicians about using evidence and research, the first thing they say is “I don’t have time for that” and a lot of times this is quickly followed by “I wouldn’t even know where to start”.

One way to focus a search for evidence or formulate a research question is to use PICO format.  What is PICO?!

Well, here you go:

P: The patient or client that you have in mind (can be individual, group, or population).

I: The intervention that you want to know about (might be a new intervention that you want to try or an intervention that is “business as usual” but doesn’t feel right with certain clients).

C: Comparison of interest (maybe it is usual care or another competing new intervention).

O: Outcome (what is the intervention supposed to improve? Strength, coordination, overall function?).


In people who have dementia (P), is environmental modification (I) superior to task training (C) for independence in ADLs?

With children who have autism (P), are social stories (I) better than role playing (C) for improving social participation?

Have you tried PICO?  Does it help with your searches for clinical evidence?

If you want to know what to do next, go to my previous post:  The 5 best OT resources to look for research evidence!

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @KarenKeptnerOT or follow my blog if you like what you read!

Image source:  Guitarfish

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