Skip to Main Content

Evidence-Based Dentistry: Clinical Questions: Use PICO

Clinical Questions

This page shows how to formulate an answerable question to use in database searches using PICO.

Using PICO

A well formed clinical question covers the following areas (PICO):

  • Patient or population or problem
  • Intervention or exposure or prognostic factor
  • Comparison (not always included)
  • Outcome

Examples of formulating questions using PICO:


Patient/Population/Problem Intervention/Exposure/  Prognostic Factor   Comparison    Outcome

adult patient with sleep bruxism

occlusal splint 


reduce jaw muscle discomfort

patient with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome 



alleviate pain, joint clicking, and muscle tenderness


1. In an adult patient with sleep bruxism, will an occlusal splint reduce jaw muscle discomfort?

2.  In patients with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome, will Botox, as compared with a mouthguard, alleviate pain, joint clicking, and muscle tenderness?

*Note that there does not always have to be a comparison

A Brief (10 min.) PICO Overview Video

The video below provides demonstrations as to how to develop effective clinical and research questions using PICOT.

Contact Dorothy

Profile Photo
Jill Deaver

PICO Worksheets

© UAB Libraries ι University of Alabama at Birmingham ι About Us ι Contact Us ι Disclaimer