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NUR 3055: Evidence Based Practice for Nursing Care: Research Topic

Not sure what topic to choose?

If you are not sure what research topic to select before diving into our databases, the National Institute of Nursing Research has wonderful suggestions that may help:

Creating your Research Question

Step 1: Before researching anything, figure out what you want to research first.

  • Word of advice: research a topic you find interesting! The easiest part of research is locating the right articles--the hardest part is reading and interpreting the data. If you don't find the data interesting, the work will be painful. So again: research a topic you find interesting! 


Step 2: Write your research question. Make sure you have your dependent and independent variables and your population. When you are looking at your question, ask yourself: What am I measuring? If you can answer that question, you should have a decent research question.


Step 3: Break your research question down before going to the databases: 

  • Write down your question in a narrative form and identify the keywords for your search.
  • Think of synonyms for the keywords.

Example Question: How does psychotherapy reduce the risk of PPD for patients between the ages of 13 and 17?

Keywords: psychotherapy, reduce, PPD, ages of 13 and 17


Possible Synonyms: 

  • Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Reduc*
  • Post-Partum Depression 
  • Prenatal Depression
  • Perinatal Depression
  • Baby Blues
  • Teens
  • Adolescents

The word reduce is not a MeSH term, but by placing the asterisk * at the beginning of the word (reduc*) will help the database look for the following words: reduce, reduced, reduction, reducing, reduces, etc.



PICO is a taxonomy used in evidence-based medicine to help formulate questions. It is not prescriptive in that it doesn’t tell you how to do an intervention or a comparison. You have to make those determinations.  

PICO stands for: 

  • P = Patient, Population, or Problem
  • I = Intervention/prognosis factor/exposure
  • C = Comparison intervention (can be none or placebo)
  • O = Outcomes of interest


Let's say you have a clinical scenario that you need to formulate into a question. This is how you do it using PICO:

            Your patient with carpal tunnel syndrome wants to avoid surgery and asks you if non-surgical treatments are effective. You have heard about various conservative treatments, but are not sure if their effectiveness has been established by scientific evidence.

  • P = carpal tunnel syndrome
  • I = non-surgical treatments/conservative treatments
  • C = surgery
  • O = reduce pain (from the carpal tunnel syndrome)


Create question:

In adult patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, are conservative or non-surgical treatments effective in reducing pain?