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Michigan State University

Nursing Literature and Other Types of Reviews

Step by step guide on how to conduct a literature review.

PICO(T)

For many reviews, you'll need to start with a research or clinical question. In nursing, this often follows a PICO(T) format. This stands for:

Population

Intervention

Comparison

Outcome

Time

Sometimes a PICO(T) will not have certain aspects of the acronym-for instance, the Comparison may be doing nothing, or having no intervention. The Time component is also not always found in PICO(T) questions, and usually refers to a defined amount of time for the intervention or study-birth-six months, over two years, etc. It does not refer to the age of the population-that should be included in your population portion.

Example PICO(T) questions:

In patients ages 65 and older, how does the use of an influenza vaccine compared to not receiving the vaccine influence their risk of developing pneumonia during the flu season?

In those receiving chemotherapy, does the use of ginger help reduce nausea and vomiting?

Among new nurses, does an orientation or mentorship program reduce the risk of burnout and turnover vs nurses who do not receive any mentorship or orientation in their first positions?

In women with mild depression, is exercise as effective as drug therapy in lessening the symptoms of depression?

In young children, do distraction techniques during immunization administration using toys result in lower pain scores when compared to no intervention?

Do noise reduction interventions compared to common practice (no intervention) effect the incidence of sleep deprivation and delirium in adult ICUs?

Creating a PICO(T) and Searching Databases

Michigan State University