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AT 380/381 Orthopaedic Injury Evaluation: PICOT


Question mark with thinking figure

PICOT is a framework for formulating a successful research question. It helps to narrow and focus your research question by clearly defining the following parts of your research question: 

  1. Population
    • What the primary problem, disease, other conditions present​
    • What are the important patient characteristics (gender, age, etc.)?
  2. Intervention
    • ​​What inventions are you considering as treatment options?
    • Examples: exposure, diagnostic test, prognostic test, therapy
  3. Comparison 
    • What are the alternatives to compare with the intervention?
  4. Outcome
    • ​​What do you wan tto accomplish for the patient?
    • How will you measure the effectiveness of intervention?
  5. Time 
    • What is the time frame for your data collection?

To learn more, visit the National Athletic Trainers' Association's training on using Evidence-Based Practice in Athletic Training

Example PICOT

Example from NATA's Evidence-Based Practice in Athletic Training:

Patient Post-lateral ankle sprain, athlete
Intervention Ultrasound
Comparison Electrical stimulation

Short-term goal: Decrease swelling, increase range of motion/tissue extensibility

Lont-term goal: Return to play

Time 6 weeks



1. NATA. Evidence-based practice in Athletic Training. National Athletic Trainers' Association. Available from: 

Additional Resources on PICOT

If you are experiencing problems with our guides and databases, please contact ProfessorJanet S. Ward,, Assistant Director of the Library and Web Services Librarian.