The first step in research or evidence-based practice is defining a problem and asking a question . In the research process this becomes part of developing a proposal for a study. In the clinical setting, ‘asking a question’ may become part of a research study, a quality improvement project, or lead to evidence based practice.

A commonly used format for creating a clinical question is known as PICO which refers to:

  • P    Patient population of interest 
    I     Intervention/issue of interest 
    C    Comparison of interest 
    O    Outcome of interest

The Duke University/University of North Carolina tutorial on evidence-based practice includes an example of PICO.