|Evidence-based research and practice / Asking and answering clinical questions|
The 49 Clinical Questions series: Experts and practitioners ask a series of structured questions based on clinical scenarios.
Clinical questions can fall into two categories; (1) background questions, and (2) foreground questions. To examine how these questions can arise, let's consider the following patient encounter:
Treatment plan: corrective lenses and schedule a follow-up at which point you may prescribe an eyepatch.
You now have some additional questions that you would like answered by the evidence, prior to the follow-up appointment. These clinical questions are background and foreground questions.
Background questions help us improve our understanding of a topic. These types of questions ask for general knowledge about a condition or a thing.
Foreground questions "ask for specific knowledge to inform clinical decisions or actions."2
These questions are usually more complex as they contain several concepts such as a specific population, intervention, comparison and outcome. The organization of these concepts in a clinical questions, is referred to as PICO. For example:
|P||Population||Pediatric patient presenting with amblyopia|
|O||Outcome||Improvement of condition|
Example of a PICO-structured foreground question:
Is an eyepatch recommended for the treatment of a child with amblyopia who is already being treated with glasses?
Formulating complex PICO questions takes practice. If you need help, please contact the Optometry and Vision Science Librarian.