A clear, well-defined, and answerable research question is essential for any systematic review, meta-analysis, or other form of evidence synthesis. The question must be answerable. Spend time refining your research question.
The PICO mnemonic is frequently used for framing quantitative clinical research questions.1
|P||Patient or problem being addressed|
|I||Intervention or exposure being studied|
|C||Comparison intervention or exposure|
The PEO acronym is appropriate for studies of diagnostic accuracy2
|E||Exposure (the test that is being evaluated)|
The SPICE framework is effective “for formulating questions about qualitative or improvement research.”3
|S||Setting of your project|
|P||Population being studied|
|I||Intervention (drug, therapy, improvement program)|
|E||Evaluation (how were outcomes evaluated?)|
The SPIDER search strategy was designed for framing questions best answered by qualitative and mixed-methods research.4
|S||Sample: what groups are of interest?|
|PI||Phenomenon of Interest: what behaviors, decisions, or experience do you want to study?|
|D||Design: are you applying a theoretical framework or specific research method?|
|E||Evaluation: how were outcomes evaluated and measured?|
|R||Research type: qualitative or mixed-methods?|
1. Anastasiadis E, Rajan P, Winchester CL. Framing a research question: The first and most vital step in planning research. Journal of Clinical Urology. 2015;8(6):409-411.
2. Speckman RA, Friedly JL. Asking Structured, Answerable Clinical Questions Using the Population, Intervention/Comparator, Outcome (PICO) Framework. PM&R. 2019;11(5):548-553.
3. Knowledge Into Action Toolkit. NHS Scotland. http://www.knowledge.scot.nhs.uk/k2atoolkit/source/identify-what-you-need-to-know/spice.aspx. Accessed April 23, 2021.
4. Cooke A, Smith D, Booth A. Beyond PICO: the SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative health research. 2012;22(10):1435-1443.