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Database Searching

Choosing a Topic

Depending on the type of research you are interested in, whether it's clinical, evidence-based, or lab/bench research, each type requires a slightly different approach to searching databases. It begins with how to choose a topic.

Evidence Based PICO (T) Question

Asking a focused clinical question using the pneumonic PICO (T) as it is a helpful approach to summarizing the literature that explores the effect of a specific therapy.

  • P = Patient, Population or Problem
  • I = Intervention
  • C = Comparative Intervention
  • O = Outcome
  • T = Time Frame


I'm a nurse at BAIC and many of my breast cancer patients want to know if scalp cooling will really work  to reduce the amount of hair loss during their treatment. I would like to conduct a search to determine whether scalp cooling is an effective intervention to prevent hair loss in breast cancer patients undergoing treatment.

PICO Question
  • P: Breast cancer patients
  • I: Scalp cooling
  • C: No scalp cooling
  • O: Hair loss
  • T: During active cancer treatment

In breast cancer patients, does scalp cooling decrease the amount of hair loss, during active cancer treatment?

Research Question

A research question should be clear and focused, where you can then draw upon multiple sources to present your argument.


I'm a clinical fellow in the ICU and I was asked to do a Grand Rounds presentation on how to identify and treat CAR-T therapy toxicities in the ICU.

Research Question

How do CAR-T toxicities present in critically ill cancer patients and what are the best practices to treat these patients.