Creating a clinical question helps medical professionals find the best possible research efficiently to help them make decisions regarding a patient's care. Clinical questions can be broadly categorized as either background or foreground questions.
► Background Questions ask for general knowledge about a condition, test or treatment. These types of questions typically ask who, what, where, when, how & why about things like a disorder, test, or treatment, or other aspect of healthcare. Example: What are the clinical manifestations of menopause?
► Foreground Questions ask for specific knowledge to inform clinical decisions. These questions typically concern a specific patient or particular population. They tend to be more specific and complex than background questions. Quite often, foreground questions investigate comparisons, such as two drugs, or two treatments. Example: In patients with osteoarthritis of the hip, is water therapy more effective than land-based exercise in restoring range-of-motion?
PICO is a mnemonic for the important parts of a well-built clinical question. PICO can also help formulate searching strategies by identifying the key concepts that need to be addressed in the article to answer the clinical question.
^This Research Guide provides a comprehensive overview of Evidence-Based Practice & PICO.
^This is a great online tutorial with sample case studies & activities to help you understand EBP.
^This link provides insight to different types of clinicals questions and their context in the medical field.
► Therapy Questions:
how to select treatments to offer our patients that do more good than harm and that are worth the efforts and costs of using them.
► Diagnostic Tests:
how to select and interpret diagnostic tests, in order to confirm or exclude a diagnosis, based on considering their precision, accuracy, acceptability, expense, safety, etc.
► Prognosis Questions:
how to estimate a patient's likely clinical course over time due to factors other than interventions
► Harm/Etiology Questions:
how to identify causes for disease (including its iatrogenic forms).