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Evidence-Based Practice Guide

A guide to evidence-based practice.


The first step in the EBP process is to ask a searchable, answerable clinical question.  PICO is a standardized format that creates a well-defined question and it stands for: 


Carefully formulating the question achieves the following:

  1. makes the search more efficient,
  2. helps determine the type of evidence to look for, and
  3. assists in identifying the outcomes.

PICO Steps

Step 1: Determine the clinical scenario

Step 1

Step 2: Find the P, I, C, and O from your clinical scenario

Step 2

Step 3: Write out the question based on PICO elements.

Step 3

Formulating the question

Fill in the blanks with information from your clinical scenario:

Adapted from: Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


In_______________, what is the effect of ________________on _______________ compared with _________________?



Are ______________ who have _______________ at ______________ risk for/of ____________ compared with _____________ with/without ______________?


Are (Is) ________________ more accurate in diagnosing _______________ compared with ____________?


For ___________ does the use of _________________ reduce the future risk of ____________ compared with ______________?


Does ____________ influence ______________ in patients who have _____________? 


How do _______________ diagnosed with _______________ perceive __________________?

Practice PICO