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Nursing Resources

Nursing materials for undergraduate and graduate students at the Macdonald-Kelce Library.

How PICOT Differs From Research

How is Picot different from research question?

PICOT is different from a standard research question because it is a clinical question. It is composed of various elements that create a framework for research that typical research questions do not usually have. The goal or purpose of PICOT is to ultimately intervene in someone's healthcare

Focus on prevention

The PICOT question format is a consistent "formula" for developing answerable, researchable questions

The Five A's of the Evidence Cycle:

Building a PICO/PICOT/PICOTS Framework

Incorporating best evidence into nursing requires a systematic approach.  A clear series of steps, known as the Evidence Cycle, can provide an excellent paradigm to guide you through this process.  It involves knowing the right question to ask, turning that question into a good search, knowing the best place to look, finding what is available, appraising the results, and then using the evidence you find to care for your patient population.  Use the "5 A's" as a step-by-step guide to locate best evidence.

  1. Assess:  Identify the health problem.  What is it you want to know?
  1. Ask:  Use the PICOT formula to create a good question
    • = Patient:  Who is your patient population?  Describe the most important characteristics of the patient.  (e.g., age, disease/condition, gender)
    • I = Intervention:  What type of intervention are you trying to assess?  An educational intervention, a prevention initiative such as immunization, a policy change?  Describe the main intervention.  (e.g., exposure to disease, a prognostic factor, drug or other treatment, diagnostic/screening test)
    • C = Comparison:  Is there a control?  Describe the main alternative being considered.  (e.g., placebo, standard therapy, no treatment, no disease or absence of risk factor, the gold standard)
    • O = Outcome:  What do you hope to accomplish?  Better/best prevention method(s)?  Describe what you're trying to accomplish, measure, improve, affect, including a time horizon if relevant.  (e.g., clinical outcome, reduced mortality or morbidity, improved memory, accurate and timely diagnosis)
    • T  = Time:  Is there a time frame to reach the desired outcome with chosen intervention?
    • S = Setting:  Sometimes you will see "S" in a PICOT framework which can stand for Setting (e.g. primary, specialty, inpatient, nursing homes, or other long-term care setting) where the study is implemented and the relevance of the study setting to real world use. You may also see "S" used for Study Design (e.g. Randomized Controlled Trial) as an important factor in your PICOT question.
  1. Acquire: Use your PICOT formula to search for good evidence.  Start your search using only two to three terms - you can always add more.  Create a chart and write down your primary search terms/synonyms/MeSH terms/CINAHL headings for each section of your PICOT.
  1. Appraise:  What have you found?  Where did you find it?  Are the results significant to your patient population?  How strong is the evidence?  Are there any confounding variables such as bias present?
  1. Apply:  Now apply and discuss the evidence you have found with your patient population.

Good videos

PICOT Evidence Table Guidelines

PICOT / Evidence Table



The purpose of this assignment is twofold. First, the student will share their PICOT question and provide elaboration on its key components, as well as examine its feasibility as a future DNP Scholarly Project. Additionally, this assignment provides the student an opportunity to critically appraise selected literary evidence, using a systematic template. This will serve as the foundation for building an evidence table to further develop their future DNP Scholarly Project.   

Course Outcomes

This assignment enables the student to meet the following course outcomes:

CO 1: Formulate and refine clinical research questions relevant to advanced practice nursing. (PO #3)

CO 4: Compare and contrast differences and similarities with selected characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research designs. (PO #3)

CO 9: Differentiate between quality improvement, system change, research, and/or evidence-based practice initiatives. (PO #5)

CO 10: Employ an evidence-based practice model for quality improvement. (PO #5)

Due Date: Submit to the Dropbox by Sunday of the end of Week 6 at 11:59 p.m. (MT).

Points: This assignment is worth a total of 200 points.  

General directions

  1. You will submit one (1) paper as part of this assignment; however, there are two components of the assignment:
    1. PICOT (written/narrative)
    2. Evidence Table
  2. Your scholarly paper must follow APA format. Include a cover page and headings per 6th edition APA guidelines.
    1. Download and use the Week 6 PICOT/Evidence Table Template provided for you, which is located in Doc Sharing.

PICOT (written/narrative):

  1. The PICOT (written/narrative) Component of the assignment should be no more than 5-7 pages (not including the title or references pages; nor the Evidence Table). 
  2. Include the following components in the PICOT part of your scholarly paper:
    1. Title Page
    2. Introduction
    3. Problem Statement
    4. PICOT Question
      1. Population of Interest
      2. Intervention of Interest
      3. Comparison of Interest
      4. Outcome of Interest
      5. Timeframe
    5. Project Planning
      1. Organizational Support
      2. Project Feasibility
      3. Resources Needed
    6. Evidence Summary
    7. Conclusion
    8. References Page* (see #5 below)
  3. The PICOT component of the assignment (does not include the Evidence Table) must be no more than 5-7 pages in length (not including the cover page or references page).

Evidence table:

  1. *Following the References Page, the Evidence Table part of the assignment is to be filled out in its entirety.
    1. Identify a minimum of five original research studies from the literature review begun in NR700 to build a literature review for your project proposal.
      1. Note all articles must be contemporary in nature (no more than 5 years old).
    2. To complete this assignment, you may again need to access to the following databases: CINAHL, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and the Joanna Briggs Institute.
      1. You may access these databases through the Chamberlain College of Nursing Online Library. When clicked, it reveals a list of "Tools" or PDFs on how to do conduct various searches of the required databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, Cochrane, and JBI) through the portals (EBSCO and OVID) provided. This effort should have begun in NR700 with the development of the annotated bibliography.

  1. All Chamberlain College of Nursing policies related to plagiarism must be observed.
  2. Post questions about this assignment to the weekly Q & A Forum.

Chamberlin College of Nursing.  NR701  "Application of Analytic Methods"  PICO / Evidence Table Guidelines

What Is It


In the steps required to do evidence-based research the library/ librarian can help you identify/refine the clinical question and collect the best and most pertinent evidence related to your topic.

The PICO format is a method used for implementing evidence-based practice projects.

Sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic, etc.
Therapeutic measure, medication, tests, etc.
Other interventions, standard of care, Comparison may not always be there  
Should be measureable

The PICO acronym is broken down as follows:

P = Patient population of interest

I = intervention of interest

C = comparison of interest

O = outcome of interest

Melnyk, B. M., Fineout-Overholt, E. (2005). Evidence based practice in nursing and health care: A guide to best practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins

Here is an example of a PICO statement:

Does implementation of routine depression screening among adults in a free primary care clinic with a vulnerable population increase proper identification of the appropriate mental health disorder and decrease misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosing?

Using the PICO format:

P = adults in a primary care clinic with a vulnerable population

I = routine depression screening

C = percentage distribution of patients screened for depression compared to a total number of patients. Pre and post-tests provided before and after education to test clinicians; calculation of difference in scores using paired t-test to determine significance.

O = 100% of adult patients screened for depression results in proper diagnosing and identification, providing an opportunity for intervention. Clinic staff would be educated on the importance and need to screen all patients for depression.

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