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Systematic Reviews

A guide for researchers beginning a medical systematic review or meta-analysis.

Team Members involved

The research question will typically be formulated by the Content Experts on the team and will include any inclusion/exclusion criteria necessary to produce a narrow and answerable question.  (Inclusion criteria are aspects of the study that must be present, Exclusion criteria are aspects which would automatically preclude a study from the review.)


What is PICO(T)? 

PICO is a tool commonly used in medical and health research to help researchers formulate a question. The difficulty in creating a question is often underestimated and PICO can help us parse out the important keys a good question should contain. This is just a tool, not a rigid structure in which all questions must fit.

P = Patient, Population, and/or Problem

I = Intervention

C = Comparison (not always applicable)

= Outcome

T = *Type of Study (what study design is most appropriate to answer the question?)

Sometimes you will see PICO TT where the additional T stands for the type of question you are asking which you do need to know to determine the best study design. 

*In some PICO(T) models you will see T stand for time. This only works if your question includes a concept of time. 

Additional Guidance

The early chapters of these books have additional information on formulating a specific, answerable research question: