PICOT is utilized by the health care community to identify and study a nursing or medical practice problem. Consequently, PICOT examples that may provide insight into the use of the PICOT process, may not be relevant to nursing practice as they are based on a medical practice problem. Describe the difference between a nursing practice problem and a medical practice problem. Provide one example of each. Discuss why is it important to ensure your PICOT is based on a nursing practice problem.


In the healthcare community, the PICOT (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, and Time) framework is used to formulate research questions and guide evidence-based practice. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the difference between nursing practice problems and medical practice problems and emphasize the importance of using a nursing practice problem when formulating a PICOT question. Two examples, one for nursing practice and one for medical practice, will be provided to illustrate the contrast between the two.

Difference between Nursing Practice Problems and Medical Practice Problems

Nursing Practice Problems

Nursing practice problems refer to issues or concerns that are specifically relevant to the nursing profession. These problems are designed to address the unique needs and challenges faced by nurses in their daily practice. Nursing practice problems typically focus on interventions, best practices, and quality improvement initiatives related to patient care, safety, and outcomes.

An example of a nursing practice problem could be the effectiveness of nurse-led education programs in reducing hospital readmission rates for patients with heart failure. In this case, the problem centers around nursing interventions, specifically the role of nurses in providing education to patients with heart failure, and the desired outcome of reducing hospital readmissions.

Medical Practice Problems

On the other hand, medical practice problems pertain to issues that are more closely associated with medical diagnosis, treatment, and management. These problems are concerned with medical interventions, disease processes, and medical outcomes. Unlike nursing practice problems, medical practice problems tend to focus on the role of physicians and other medical professionals rather than nurses.

An example of a medical practice problem could be the effect of a specific medication on blood pressure control in patients with hypertension. This problem revolves around medical interventions, specifically the use of medication, and the desired outcome of achieving blood pressure control.

Importance of Using a Nursing Practice Problem in PICOT Formulation

When formulating a PICOT question, it is crucial to ensure that the problem being addressed is relevant and applicable to nursing practice. This is important for several reasons:

1. Nursing Scope of Practice: Nurses have a unique role in patient care, providing holistic and patient-centered care that goes beyond medical interventions. By focusing on nursing practice problems, the PICOT question can address interventions and outcomes specifically related to nursing care, allowing nurses to contribute to evidence-based practice and improve patient outcomes within their scope of practice.

2. Practicality and Feasibility: PICOT questions based on nursing practice problems are more likely to be practical and feasible for nurses to implement in their daily practice. By addressing issues that nurses have direct control over, it becomes easier to implement the proposed interventions and measure outcomes in a timely manner, leading to more effective and actionable results.

3. Relevance to Nursing Profession: By focusing on nursing practice problems, the PICOT question addresses the unique challenges, needs, and priorities of the nursing profession. This not only promotes professional development and advancement in nursing but also contributes to the body of nursing knowledge and evidence-based practice.


In summary, nursing practice problems and medical practice problems differ in their focus on nursing interventions and medical interventions, respectively. When formulating a PICOT question, it is essential to choose a nursing practice problem to ensure relevance and applicability to nursing practice. This ensures that the research question aligns with the scope of nursing practice, is practical and feasible for nurses to implement, and reflects the unique needs and priorities of the nursing profession. By addressing nursing practice problems, nurses can contribute to evidence-based practice, improve patient outcomes, and advance the nursing profession as a whole.