Skip to Main Content
University of Detroit Mercy logo


Evidence-based Practice Databases

Using a PICO/T Question for Searching the Literature

PICO/T is a way to format a research question. It can also get you started with keywords for your literature search (state of the science)

P = Population of interest (consider age, gender, race, ethnicity, disease process, comorbidities)

I = Intervention (exposure to disease, prognostic factor A, risk behaviors, treatment, what do you want to do for this population? what could be done better?)

C = Comparison of interest (no comparison, placebo, prognostic factor B, absence of risk behavior, other treatments - "gold standard")

O = Outcome of interest (what result are you looking for? risk of disease, rate of occurrence of adverse outcomes like illness, comorbidity, or death)

T = Time (how long does it take to demonstrate an outcome? how long are participants observed?)


1. P = menopausal women;  I = cranberry juice; C = no cranberry juice; O = incidence of UTI

In menopausal women, does drinking 1 cup of cranberry juice daily versus not drinking any cranberry juice lower the incidence of urinary tract infections?

Initial Keywords: menopause, cranberry juice, urinary tract infections

2. P = adults with arthritis; I = tomatoes; C = No comparison; O = increased joint pain

Do tomatoes worsen joint pain in adults with arthritis?

Initial Keywords: tomatoes, arthritis, pain


Godshall, M. (2016). Fast facts for evidence-based practice in nursing (2nd ed.). Springer Publishing Company. DOI 10.1891/9780826194077

EBP Filters in PubMed

The following Article Types will allow you to limit to evidence based practice:

Clinical Study:

includes: Clinical Trial, Controlled Clinical Trial

Randomized Clinical Trial, Observational Study


Evaluation Study


Systematic Reviews

Comparative Study  Meta-Analysis
Multicenter Study
 Validation Study

Evaluation Study = studies determining the effectiveness or utility of processes, personnel, and equipment

Validation Study = research using processes by which the reliability and relevance of a procedure for a specific purpose are established

Remember, Systematic Reviews (Article Type) will also include Literature Reviews in the results. They are NOT the same. Literature Reviews are NOT EBP. You will need to evaluate the article to determine the type of Review.

Practice Guidelines: most are EBP, but some are still opinion-based. You will need to review the guideline to ensure it is EBP.

Qualitative Research in PubMed:

  • Use the following search terms to capture the various types of qualitative studies: Qualitative Research, Grounded Theory, focus groups, phenomenology, ethnography, nursing methodology research, narration, narrative, interviews as topic, "thematic analysis"

Epidemologic Research in PubMed:

  • Use Epidemiologic Studies as a search term for studies that examine associations, hypothesized causal relations. They are usually concerned with identifying or measuring the effects of risk factors or exposures. Includes: Cohort Studies, Longitudinal Studies, Prospective/Retrospective Studies, Case Control Studies, Cross Sectional Studies.

Resources for Appraising a Research Study

Qualitative Research Aids

Evidence Based Practice Websites

Research Assistance Tutorials

The handout demonstrates how to set database limits to retrieve article citations from Nursing journals.

Nursing-specific literature also includes articles authored by nurses. The best way to determine nurse authorship is to search or verify author affiliation - look for Colleges or Departments of Nursing. Both PubMed and CINAHL can search the Affiliation field; search using the term nursing.

Need to find Primary research or single/individual studies? See the tutorial below

How do you know if an article is EBN / EBP? See the tutorial link below

How to Write a Literature Review

Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care

Aveyard, H. (2010; 2nd ed.)
Unlimited access ebook

Doing a Literature Review in Nursing, Health and Social Care

Cronin, P., Coughlan, M., & Ryan, F. (2013)
Call number: RT 81.5 .C68 2013
Print book

Doing Your Literature Review: traditional and systematic techniques

Jesson, J., Matheson, L., & Lacey, F. (2011)
Call number: H 62 .J44 2011
Print book

Succeeding in Literature Reviews and Research Project Plans for Nursing Students

Williamson, G.R. & Whittaker, A. (2014)
Call number: RT 81.5 .W493 2014
Print book

Research Books: Critiquing, and Understanding

Database Help