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Evidence Based Medicine Guide: Module 1: Ask

Asking Focused Questions

"One of the fundamental skills required for practising EBM is the asking of well-built clinical questions. To benefit patients and clinicians, such questions need to be both directly relevant to patients' problems and phrased in ways that direct your search to relevant and precise answers1."

The investment of time to consider what you need to find out and construct a focused clinical question will yield a more effective and efficient search for evidence, helping you to more quickly locate the best available evidence to inform your patient care decision.  

Many EBM experts recommend the following steps in formulating a clinical question:

  • Analyze the question components using the "PICO" framework;
  • Rephrase your question using the concepts from your PICO analysis;
  • Identify the type or domain of the question.

The sections in this module will review these three steps.

(1) CEBM>EBM tools> asking focused questions [Online]. CEBM - Centre for Evidence Based Medicine.  Oxford: Institute for Health Sciences. [Date Accessed: 11 January 2013] Available from: