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University of Washington Health Sciences Library

Systematic Reviews: SR and other comprehensive literature search project support


 The PICO model is a useful way to define the key concepts of your question:

  • Patient or Population in relation to the Problem

    • What are the characteristics of the patient or population?

    • What is the condition, disease, or situation you are interested in?

  • Intervention or exposure

    • What is the intervention, test, or exposure you want to find out about in relation to the patient/population/problem?

  • Comparison (not always applicable)

    • What is the alternative to the intervention (e.g. placebo, different drug, surgery)?

  • Outcome

    • What are the relevant outcomes (e.g. morbidity, death, complications)?

Sometimes the model is described as PICO(T), where the T stands for time.

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