Using a research question framework can help clarify and classify the concepts in your research question. There are many frameworks available, and which one you choose depends on the nature of your research. Frameworks are useful, but optional, as not all research aligns with the components. Explore the tabs to find examples of how to use the frameworks.
The PICO structure is most commonly used in the health professions to research prognoses, diagnoses and therapies. It is mostly used to compare one intervention with another.
PICO clinical question example:
"In patients with cellulitis, does once-daily intravenous cephazolin and oral Probenecid, compared with twice daily intravenous Cephazolin, result in shorter time to recovery?"
|Population/Patient Problem||patients with cellulitis|
|Intervention (or exposure)||once-daily IV cephazolin and oral probenecid|
|Comparison||twice-daily IV Cephazolin|
|Outcome||shorter recovery time|
SPICE can be used to evaluate the outcomes of a service, project, or intervention.
SPICE question example:
"In hospital waiting rooms, do therapy dog visits (as opposed to no therapy dog visits), reduce anxiety in outpatients?"
|Setting||Hospital waiting rooms|
|Intervention||Therapy dog visits|
|Comparison||No therapy dog visits|
The SPIDER tool is designed to structure qualitative research questions, focusing less on interventions and more on study design, and "samples" rather than populations.
The SPIDER question: "What are young parents’ experiences of attending antenatal education?"
|Phenomenon of Interest||antenatal education|
Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435-1443. doi:10.1177/1049732312452938
ECLIPSE is useful for investigating the outcomes of a policy or service.
ECLIPSE question example: "How can I increase access to wireless internet for hospital patients?"
(what are you looking to improve/change?)
|To increase access to wireless internet in the hospital|
|Client Group||patients and families|
|Impact||clients have easy access to free internet|
Professionals (who is involved in improving the service?)
|IT, hospital administration|
(what kind of service is this?)
|provision of free wireless internet to patients.|