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University of Newcastle Library Guides

EBP for undergrads: Searching for evidence

Guide to evidence-based practice resources for students

Formulating a clinical question

The PICO model is used by health professionals to formulate clinical questions and improve the relevance of their searching.  The 4 elements in PICO can also assist students - Population, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome:


You may also see variants of PICO:

  • PICOS, where the S stands for Study design/s;
  • PICOC, where the C stands for Context;  and
  • PICOT, where the T stands for Timeframe.

For more information on using PICO see the Systematic Reviews guide.

PICO not quite fit?

For certain scenarios (such as qualitative research), PICO may not be suitable. Try the PICo (little 'o') model instead:


Other alternatives to PICO include SPIDER (for qualitative and mixed-methods studies), SPICE (for qualitative studies), and ECLIPSE (for policy / management information).

Direct search of Ovid databases using PICO

Select Ovid Database:
P: Patient, Population, Problem or disease
    who are the patients, what is the problem
I: Intervention or Issue
    what we do to them, what are they exposed to
C: Comparison intervention or issue
    what do we compare the intervention with
O: Outcome
    what happens, what is the outcome

Searching health databases

Key databases for health subjects at UON are listed on the Subject Resource Guides.

Databases can also be accessed by title or subject grouping via Databases by title.

For tips on locating peer-reviewed articles, see Peer review and journal articles.

Evidence-based resources can be located via EBP resources.

Want to know more about using health databases? See our guides below.

Need some help?

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