Using the PICO Method to get Evidence

Read the following if you want to learn how to get the most relevant facts/data/evidence about the treatment your doctor is prescribing for you.  This evidence (that comes from clinical trials) is the data that determines whether or not you are getting the right treatment.  This evidence will tell you how many patients like yourself got a specific treatment and had a bad or a good outcome.  To get this critical evidence you must first ask the right question.  

The best way to frame this question is to use what is known as the PICO format.

  • P= Patients like yourself (i.e. Young adults with exercise-induced asthma)
  • I= Interventions (or treatments) you are interested in (i.e. Long term use of inhalers)
  • C=  Compare the intervention you are interested in to another intervention (i.e. short term inhaler use)
  • O= The Outcomes that you are interested in knowing about (i.e. dependence or tolerance to inhalers)

Now you can convert this into your framed PICO question: What is the evidence that long term inhaler use (compared to short term inhaler use) causes dependence/tolerance in young adult patients with exercise induced asthma? Watch this video and then practice using PICO and creating framed questions for your medical problems. Or do a PICO for a friend or loved one.  PICO + Evidence is the BEST gift!


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