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Medline Guided Exercise: 1. Research Question

1.  Research Question


A defined question helps to clarify what you are looking for.  The PICO framework, below,  is a tool that helps structure the search process by providing the building blocks to create a logical strategy.  For each element we will perform both a subject heading and a keyword search.

Note: In many instances the C or Comparison element is not searched. In our example we will create searches for the P, the I, and the O elements

Pico building block

To begin, identify the individual concepts in the topic.  In healthcare, the Population Intervention Comparison Outcome (PICO) framework is frequently used.  In other subject areas frameworks include Setting Population Issue Contrast Evaluation (SPICE), Sample Phenomenon of interest, Design, Evaluation, Research type (SPIDER) or simply concepts A, B and C.

Analyze the following topic according to Population Intervention Comparison Outcome (PICO) elements to separate the individual concepts or ideas

ACTIVITY: "What research has been done on the use of games such as Wii, Kinect and others for improving balance in children and teenagers who have a traumatic brain injury including concussion."


ACTIVITY: Build your own search - Analyze your research topic into separate concepts.  

What is your research question?

  • Open one of the following worksheets  
  • Write your topic in the top box
  • Identify the PICO elements and add them to the relevant boxes on the first page