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Athletic Training & Exercise Science: Creating A Research Question

This guide presents resources and tips useful for students in Athletic Training and Exercise Sciences classes. There is also basic information about places to find statistics, images, and maps.

PICOT: What is it?

P

I

C

O

T

Patient/Population/Problem

Intervention/Indicator

Compare/Control

Outcome

Time/Type of Study or Question

Who is your patient?

Identify a disease, health status, age, race, geographic region, sex, or a specific characteristic important to your question.

What do you plan to do for the patient?

Identify a specific test, therapy, medication or management strategy.

What is the alternative to your plan?

Examples may include: no treatment or a different type of treatment.

What outcome do you seek?

Identify possible outcomes/results of the intervention such as less symptoms, no symptoms, or better quality of life.

What is the time frame? What study types will most likely have the information you seek?  

This element is optional and not always included.

Intervention

This question addresses the treatment of an illness or disability.

In _________ (P), how does _________ (I) compared to _________(C) affect _______(O) within _______ (T)?
In _______(P), what is the effect of _______(I) on ______(O) compared with _______(C) within ________ (T)?

 

Example:

In soccer athletes with repetitive ankle instability(P), how does kinesio-taping (I) compare to ankle support brace (C) affect the reoccurrence of ankle injuries(O)?

In student athletes with chronic knee pain(P), how does acetaminophen(I) compared to ibuprofen(C) affect liver function(O)? 

Etiology

This questions address the causes or origin of disease, the factors that produce or predispose an individual towards a certain disease or disorder.

Are ____ (P) who have _______ (I) at ___ (Increased/decreased) risk for/of_______ (O) compared with ______ (P) with/without ______ (C) over _____ (T)?

Are ______(P) who have ______(I) compared with those without _______(C) at ________ risk for/of _______ (O) over ________(T)?

 

Examples:

Are athletes(P) that participate in high impact sports(I) following repeated traumatic brain injuries(T) at increased risk for dementia(O) compared with athletes(P) that participate in low impact sports without repeated traumatic brain injuries(T)?

Do children(P) diagnosed with obesity that participate in organized sport activities experience greater health outcomes with successful reduction in weight(O) during the ages of 5 to 12 years(T) then children that make dietary changes only?

Prognosis/Predictions

This question addresses the prediction of the course of a disease.

Does __________ (I) influence ________ (O) in patients who have _______ (P) over ______ (T)?
In _______ (P), how does ________ (I) compared to ________ (C) influence _________ (O) over _________ (T)?

 

Example:

Do strength training modalities(I) improve grip weakness(O) in baseball pitchers(P) with "thrower's" elbow if initiated within six months(T) of the initial onset of symptoms? 

Diagnosis

This question addresses the act or process of identifying or determining the nature and cause of a disease or injury through evaluation.

Are (is) _________ (I) more accurate in diagnosing ________ (P) compared with ______ (C) for _______ (O)?
In ________ (P) are/is ________(I) compared with ________(C) more accurate in diagnosing ________(O)?

 

Example:

In athletes that have experienced a popping sensation(P), is the Lachman tests(I) compared to a Lelli's Test(C) more accurate in diagnosing an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear?

Prevention

This question addresses how to reduce the chance of disease by identifying and modifying risk factors and how to diagnose disease early by screening.

For ________ (P) does the use of ______ (I) reduce the future risk of ________ (O) compared with _________ (C)?

 

Examples:

In athletes (P) receiving a pre-physical examination how effective is an initial 12-lead EKG(I) versus the standard auscultation(C) in predicting and preventing sudden death cardiac events(O)?

In student athletes (P) experiencing a sudden death cardiac event how effective is hands-only CPR (I) versus hands plus breathing CPR (C) at preventing mortality (O)?

Meaning

This question address how one experience a phenomenon or event.

How do ________ (P) diagnosed with _______ (I) perceive ______ (O) during _____ (T)?

 

Example:

How do athletes(P) perceive reporting (O) for drug-testing programs as a deterrent from using performance-enhancing drugs prior to spring training(T)?

In athletes(P) who have experienced panic-attack-like-symptoms, how does the consumption of(I) or abstinence from(C) consuming energy drinks impact the occurrence of additional episodes after the initial onset of symptoms(T)?