UTS Library

Evidence-based Practice: PICO

In this guide:

Formulate the clinical questions in the PICO framework

P - Patient/Problem, Disease, Condition. (It's about who and what.)

I - Intervention, Exposure. (It's about how.)

C - Comparison (e.g. placebo, no teatment, alternative teatments).

O - Outcome.

Type of Scenario (Question):Therapy/Prevention, Diagnosis, Etiology, Prognosis, others

Example Scenario:

One of your regular patients asks to see you about a new herb called saw palmetto. He says that he has heard that it is good for prostate problems and as it is “natural”, has no side effects. You know that he is being treated for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) with finasteride. What evidence can you find of the safety and efficacy of saw palmetto for BPH and what would you recommend to this patient?

P I C O Framework





What the letter stands for

Patient/Problem, Disease, Condition

Intervention, Exposure


Outcome (clinical)

Clinical Question

For a patient with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), is saw palmetto safe and effective?

Example Scenario

benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)

saw palmetto

No comparison

 OR finasteride

safety and efficacy of saw palmetto for BPH

Search terms:

keywords and their synonyms

benign prostatic hypertrophy


Benign prostatic hyperplasia

saw palmetto

palm plant

Serenoa repens




(sometimes there isn't a named outcome in your search: this is one of those times)