Nutrition and Dietetics

What is PICO(T)

Explanation of PICOT's acronym

  Image Reused with permission of Hawaii Pacific University

Formulating a PICOT question is the first step in the process of carrying out a focused literature review and analysis of evidence.

PICOT is an acronym for the elements of the clinical question: a way of asking a clinical question that will help guide the search for evidence.


P = Patient population of interest: Identify patients by age, gender, ethnicity, disease or health problem

= Intervention of interest (can also be issue of interest that has no comparison): Which intervention is worthwhile to use in practice? Which issue is studied (e.g. a treatment, diagnostic test, prognostic factor)?

= Comparison of interest (you do not always have a comparison): What is the usual standard of care or current intervention used now in practice?

O = Outcome: What results do you wish to achieve or observe as a result of an intervention (e.g. change in patient behavior, physical findings, patient perception)?

= Time (you do not always have a time frame): What amount of time is needed for an intervention to achieve an outcome (e.g. the amount of time needed to change quality of life or patient behavior)?



Sample PICO(T) Questions


"How effective is the consumption of low glycemic index foods for reducing energy intake and promoting weight loss in adults?

Population Adults
Intervention Consumption of low glycemic index foods
Comparison No comparison

Weight loss, and reduced energy intake


The scenario will help you to develop a PICOT Question: 

Scenario: A 47 year old woman comes to see you. She is overweight, concerned about her overall health, and would like to lose weight quickly. She has heard a report on the radio suggesting that resistant corn or potato starch can reduce obesity. You begin to investigate any evidence to support this.

Population: overweight adults

Intervention: resistant starch

Comparison: ordinary starch

Outcome: weight loss

Time: N/A

PICOT Question: In overweight adults, how does resistant starch compared with ordinary starch effect weight loss?

Turning Search Terms into a Search Strategy


Thomas G. Carpenter Library

1 UNF Drive

Jacksonville, FL 32224

Phone: 904-620-2615

Text: 904-507-4122

View Map

Library Vision

The Carpenter Library aspires to be the intellectual center of its community, to foster innovations that lead to the discovery of knowledge, and to further the research and scholarly endeavors of its users.

Contact  |  Emergency  |   Privacy  |   Regulations  |   Consumer Information  |   Disability Accommodations  |  Diversity |  Jobs at UNF

If you are experiencing difficulty accessing information on the site due to a disability, visit our website accessibility page.