“You Ask #PEDroAnswers” search tip #2 – Don’t enter search terms for each element of the PICO question

Throughout 2021 we will be sharing some tips on how to use the PEDro Advanced Search. The second tip is “Don’t enter search terms for each element of the PICO question”.

We released the first search tip in February 2021, it was “ask a PICO question before you search”. In order to answer your clinical question, it is helpful to break it down into four essential elements using the ‘PICO’ framework. In this memory aid, P stands for patient, I stands for intervention, C stands for comparison, and O stands for outcome.

Asking a PICO question gives you four options to choose from when selecting search terms, one potential search term for each PICO element. But you don’t need to enter terms for all four PICO elements when you perform your search. Usually just one or two are enough. A good starting point is to enter terms for the patient and intervention elements of your question.

The first search video for the “You Ask #PEDroAnswers” campaign illustrated how using terms for the patient and intervention can quickly identify relevant research. The question was: “in older people living at home, does telephone motivational interviewing with a physiotherapist increase physical activity compared to providing written advice?” The Search terms used were ‘gerontology’ in the Subdiscipline field for the patient and ‘motivational interview*’ in the Abstract & Title field for the intervention.

The best PICO elements to use to generate search terms will vary for different questions. Before you start your search think, which of the PICO elements will inevitably and uniquely be associated with the articles that I wish to find? Enter terms for those elements in your PEDro search.

We’ve recently revised the PEDro video tutorial on posing clinical questions about interventions:

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