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June 10, 2010

Formulating a Clinic-Based Question

I'm charged with an assignment that requires me to ask a question based upon the patient population that I see in my clinical internship. Based upon this question, I am to find relevant research on the topic and present the results to therapy staff during an in-service meeting.

So, I have a variety of ideas, from shoulder subluxation to hip replacements to drug toxicity symptoms to quick and effective methods for cleaning hospital equipment. But I have to put these topics into a format that allows me to ask a searchable clinical question. We've been instructed to put our question into PICO format.

PICO is a format for building a clinical question. P stands for the Patient or Problem to be examined. I is the Intervention that the researcher wants to examine. C stands for the Comparison intervention or treatment standard (often called to "gold standard test"). And, finally, O stands for Outcome, which are hopefully relevant to the question you asked.

Once these elements have been included in the research question, these key words are then used to conduct database searches for articles that have addressed the topic. This part of the process can be very time consuming. However, the better your question, the easier your search will go. Maybe. Sometimes the situations we encounter in the clinic have not been researched. This can be a problem with regard to best practice. Performing an intervention on patients just because "this is how we've always treated X condition," is a poor way to practice any of the healing arts.

And, so, this is why we ask questions. And this is why we read literature. And this is why we do research. Because without this, we would still be rubbing dirt in wounds.

Posted by linda at June 10, 2010 5:05 PM

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