Defining your question: PICO and PS

Health Evidence™ (2009). Developing an efficient search strategy using PICO. Retrieved from Organization website:

Canadian Template available En français


The PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) strategy helps users develop a searchable question about interventions. Developing a searchable question is a fundamental step in using research evidence to inform decision making. The tool includes a fillable form that helps users construct a searchable question and document appropriate terms for a search strategy.

Steps for Using Method/Tool

The tool contains tables for both PICO and PS (Population, Situation) strategies. Each table is a fillable form that provides an example using a clinical question and prompts users to document synonyms and MeSH headings.

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

We have provided the resources and links as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by McMaster University of any of the products, services or opinions of the external organizations, nor have the external organizations endorsed their resources and links as provided by McMaster University. McMaster University bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites.

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