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Literature Review for Nursing

P I C O (T)

The table below outlines "the how" to break down the elements of your clinical question:

Element of the Question P (patient, problem, or population) I (intervention) C (comparison [optional]) O (outcome)
  Describe as accurately as possible the patient or group of patients of interest What is the main intervention or therapy you wish to consider? Including an exposure to disease, a diagnostic test, a prognostic factor, a treatment, a patient perception, a risk factor, etc. Is there an alternative treatment to compare? Including no disease, placebo, a different prognostic factor, absence of risk factor, etc. What is the clinical outcome, including a time horizon if relevant?

Searching with Time (T)

Sometimes, the length of the intervention will be an important part of your clinical question. For example:

  • Does (I) nicotine gum help (P) smokers (O) quit smoking more effectively than (C) hypnosis over the course of (T) four weeks?

Take Note: Including time as an element of your search can be a challenge. There is no set unit for measuring time in clinical experiments. If you search for an experiment that ran for 1 month, you will miss experiments that ran for 4 weeks or 30 days. You may need to run multiple searches using different terms for your period of time, or you may need to construct a more complex search using Boolean operators.