A strong research question is needed for any type of literature review. A well-formulated research question:
Learn about tools for developing questions on this page. Using a tool to guide the process can be helpful, but is not always necessary.
PICO is a mnemonic used to describe the four elements of a good clinical question. It stands for:
P - Patient Problem (or Population)
I - Intervention (or Prognostic Factor or Exposure)
C - Comparison (if there is one)
O - Outcome
For diagnosis questions, PICO can be translated this way: P (patient), I (test), C (gold standard test), and O (presence or absence of condition).
For prognosis questions, a variation of PICO works: P (patient), F (factors), O (outcome--eg., mortality).
Here are a few other mnemonic tools that can be used to help describe elements of a research question. (click to expand)
This tool is typically used for qualitative research questions.
This tool is best for research questions that would yield qualitative or mixed methods studies.
P/I-Phenomenon of Interest
This tool is best for research questions that target qualitative research.
P-Population or Perspective