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Systematic Reviews: PICO/PICo?

Why use PICO?

Systematic reviews require focused clinical questions. PICO is a useful tool for formulating such questions. For information on PICO and other frameworks please see our tutorial:

 

A search for quantitative and qualitative reviews requires slightly different versions of this concept - see diagrams below.

PICO for quantitative studies

P

I

C

O

Patient, Population or Problem

Intervention or exposure

Comparison

Outcome

What are the characteristics of the patient or population?

 

What is the condition or disease you are interested in?

 

What do you want to do with this patient (e.g. treat, diagnose, observe)?

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

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

PICo, SPICE or SPIDER for qualitative studies

P

I

Co

Population

Interest

Context

 

What are the characteristics of the patient or population?

 

What is the condition or disease you are interested in?

 

The phenomena of Interest relates to a defined event, activity, experience or process

Context is the setting or distinct characteristics.

Note: Context not comparator

 

 

SPICE can be used for both qualitative and quantitative studies. Within social sciences research SPICE may be more appropriate to formulate the research question.

             

 

S   Setting (where)    

P   Perspective (for whom)

I      Intervention / Exposure / Interest (what)

C    Comparison (what else)

E     Evaluation (how well or what result)

SPIDER which can be used for both qualitative and quantitative studies. 

            

 

S      Sample

PI     Phenomenon of Interest
           (behaviours, experiences and interventions) 

D      Design

E      Evaluation

R      Research Type
          (qualitative, quantitative or mixed method)

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PICO worksheet

Use the PICO worksheet below to assist in converting your PICO into an effective search strategy. This includes identifying:

  • Keywords or synonyms
  • Type of study
  • Which database/s to search

PICO example

Here is an example of a clinical question that outlines the PICO components.

How would you begin searching for this topic?

Qualitative example for PICo

Here is an example of a clinical question that outlines the PICo components.

What are caregivers' experiences in providing home-based care to patients with HIV/AIDS in Africa?
 

P        caregivers providing home-based care to persons with HIV/AIDS

I       experiences

Co   Africa

How would you begin searching for this topic? See the worksheet below.