How to Write a DNP PICOT Question

Evidence-based practice process in nursing starts by creating a good clinical question well-structured in the PICOT format. For this reason, registered nurses completing their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) studies often begin their research questions using an evidence-based nursing practice tactic led by a PICOT question.

What is PICOT?

PICOT is a mnemonic used in research question formulation to clarify clinical questions. It acts as an outline, asking you to think specifically about various aspects of what you intend to research or investigate.

When formulating a PICOT question, ensure that you are clear and specific on what you are investigating. As such, you will be able to focus on the right evidence to use in your search strategy. The PICOT mnemonic is;

  • P – Patient, Problem, or Population
  • I – Intervention
  • C – Comparison
  • O – Outcome
  • T – Timeframe, Type of Question, or Type of Study

When formulating your question, make sure it is specific. For instance, what type of patient are you looking for? Are you using a particular test as your intervention or a broad group? If you are looking for better results, what are the examples of those results?

Essentially, the PICO question format enables you to target the relevant clinical evidence to use in your DNP. Certainly, before you begin your DNP, you have to complete the various assignments in your coursework, and in those assignments, you may be required to develop clinical questions with the guidance of the PICOT format.

However, formulating a DNP PICOT question is a challenging undertaking for most students. For this, reason, most nursing students struggle to formulate their DNP research question that is based on the PICOT process. Given the importance of creating PICOT questions for nursing capstone projects, most DNP students opt for DNP PICOT question help.

How to Write a Good PICOT Question

The PICOT approach is a handy tool in enabling a nursing student to organize and focus her clinical research question into researchable evidence-based practice questions. A careful and thoughtful question must have all the elements.

By dividing the PICOT elements, it will help identify the search terms or statements to use in your search of the relevant and current literature.

When formulating a PICOT, make sure you are precise, clear, and specific on what you intend to achieve. Here are the tips to use when developing a PICOT question:

P – Population or Patient Problem

In this element, choose a population that you have access to through your practice region and shun openly sampling a vulnerable population. So, if your DNP project involves a vulnerable population, think about how you might impact the care delivery without including the vulnerable group directly in the design of your DNP project. Ensure to link the new evidence-based intervention to the measurable patient outcomes. Moreover, make sure that explicit inclusion and elimination criteria are apparent.

I – Intervention

The nursing interventions you use should be based on enough amount of present and relevant evidence. Don’t use new evidence-based interventions or processes without having the original research or clinical practice guidelines to sustain its application.

Make sure you translate the currently existing knowledge into practice through the implementation of the intervention.

C – Comparison

It is advisable to compare to the present practice. Moreover, make sure you can measure what happens once you introduce your intervention compared to when you haven’t introduced or before you introduced it.

O – Outcome

Find out if your unexpected results can be objectively measured. As such, you may choose an established, valid, and reliable tool for measurement.

T – Time

Find out if you can finish the project in a meaningful way without necessarily having a lengthy implementation and data collection period. Ideally, have your data collection period be at least 4-8 weeks.

PICOT Question Examples

The PICOT process helps develop researchable and answerable clinical queries. Once you are able to create a perfect question, the process of identifying and evaluating evidence turns out to be forthright. The PICOT question examples below can guide you while formulating one of your DNP project questions.

  • For patients 60 years and older (P), how does the use of an influenza vaccine (I) compared to those who have not received the vaccine (C) influence the risk of developing pneumonia (O) during the flu season (T).
  • For emergency department patients (P), will the implementation of rapid triage assessment (I), when compared to current practice (C), improve door-to-triage and door-to-provider timers (O) within eight weeks in a rural Eastern Community Hospital?
  • In adult patients with COPD (P), does the use of a video education instrument (I) as compared to educational handouts (C)affect the number of admissions due to COPD exacerbation (O) within 12 weeks?

How to Come Up With a Perfect PICOT Question for Your DNP Project

Now that you have the fundamental elements of a PICOT question and example questions, it is advisable you take a step and examine how you can formulate such questions. Often, there are three major ways you can take to derive a PICOT question for your DNP.

First, you can formulate a PICOT question from your own experiences in nursing school and as a registered nurse. Without a doubt, nursing students pursuing a DNP have vast experience in nursing. As such, you can take advantage of the experience you have to identify a nursing problem that is worth investigating.

The several clinical scenarios you have come across can offer you an excellent source of PICOT questions. Moreover, the common nursing problems affecting the delivery of healthcare services can also provide a good source for your PICOT question.

Second, you can identify a good DNP PICOT question by reviewing the relevant literature. Reading such materials provides you with knowledge of a specific area of nursing that requires more attention. However, keep in mind that you should have a clear strategy for reviewing such literature materials.

From the onset, identify a general nursing area that you will want to focus on before starting so that you don’t waste a lot of time. Failure to identify a specific area, you won’t be able to differentiate the various nursing materials that are relevant from the irrelevant ones.

Why is PICOT Question Important When Working on a DNP Project?

To produce an acceptable DNP project, you need to conduct significant empirical research. Often, students have a rough idea of a nursing problem they intend to investigate in their DNP project. With this, a PICOT question translates the rough nursing idea into a researchable idea. So, by formulating a PICOT question, a student is able to clearly indicate all the important aspects of their DNP research project.

Besides, the PICOT question enables you to determine the literature materials that are relevant to your DNP project. This is because the question clearly specifies the scope of your nursing empirical study. With this, it is easy to differentiate relevant databases from irrelevant ones.


Certainly, writing a PICOT question is can be daunting for any nursing student. However, it doesn’t mean that should suffer over writing an academic task such as this. By taking the help of writing professionals, you may get relieve how simple and convenient it can be to attain the top marks in your DNP research project!

July 21, 2022

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