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Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior

Writing Research Questions

One method used to write research questions in the health sciences uses the acronym PICO.  PICO stands for:

P: population or problem

I: intervention or exposure

C: comparison variable

O: outcomes

Building the Search

For the research questions:

In older adults, does resistance training improve memory?

P (Population): older adults

I (Intervention): resistance training

C (Comparison): not specified

O (Outcome): improved memory

After developing your question, identify the main concepts.  Brainstorm keywords for each concept.  Then, connect your keywords to build a strategy using connectors called Booleans (AND, OR, NOT).

For example:

Boolean Operators
Connectors Example Results
AND older adults AND resistance training AND memory Results will contain all the terms.
OR older adults OR geriatrics Results will contain either term.
NOT  seniors NOT high school Results eliminate a term.


Finding Background Information
Use these sources to gain familiarity with your topic, narrow your research question, provide context, and identify experts