A well-designed question in a search for clinical information maximizes the potential for discovering the most useful and relevant information. The PICO format was designed for exactly this purpose-to make the search for answers easier and faster, especially for those times when questions arise in the context of a patient visit. PICO (patient/population, intervention, control/ comparison, outcome) is the most well-known framework for designing good questions, with PIO, PIC, and PICOT as common adaptations of the basic PICO structure. Several examples of question development and framing are provided that are drawn from the clinical literature, as well as suggested best practices for integration with the patient record.
Keywords: clinical decision-making, clinical information needs, evidence-based dentistry, evidence-based health care, PICO, question development, search filters, searching skills, systematic review methods