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UCQ

Forming Research Questions

Resources and information on how to form clear, focused, and answerable questions for research

Structure your research question using framework

Health Researchers has designed many ways or frameworks of framing questions depending on the topic, discipline, or type of questions. Your research question may not fit perfectly in one framework; just using part is sufficient.

Which framework should I use?

The selection of framework depends on the type of question and research approach. Details of the different frameworks other than PICOT, PICo, and PS can be seen below:

Used for qualitative questions evaluating experiences, meaningfulness etc.

Population
  • who is the question focusing on or the population of interest?
Exposure
  • what is the issue I'm interested in? 
  • What is your population exposed to?
Outcome or themes
  • what theme or outcome to examine?
  • What is the result of exposure in your population?

 

Example

Are adults exposed to radon at risk for developing lung cancer?

 

Example Article with PEO question

Ortolan, A., Cozzi, G., Lorenzin, M., Galozzi, P., Doria, A., & Ramonda, R. (2021). The Genetic Contribution to Drug Response in Spondyloarthritis: A Systematic Literature Review. Frontiers in genetics12, 703911. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2021.703911

Interested to learn more about this framework? Here are some resources for you

​Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC medical research methodology18(1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4

PFO framework is used in prognosis related studies

Population
  • Who and/or what is the question focused on?
Prognostic Factor
  • what is being prognosed? These are the variable that could affect the outcome
Outcome
  • what are the possible outcomes of the prognosis and which outcome are you interested in measuring?

 

Example Article

Interested to learn more about this framework? Here are some resources for you

​​Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC medical research methodology18(1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4

CoCoPop framework is used to frame questions on the prevalence of a condition, disease, problem or symptom

Condition
  • What condition, disease or problem are you investigating?
Context
  • What is the context of the study?
  • When and Where this condition is happening? 
Population
  • What population are you examining?

 

Example

What is the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in female adults with PCOD?

Condition - multiple sclerosis

Condition - PCOD

Population - female adults

Example Article with CoCoPop Question

Ehtesham, N., Rafie, M. Z., & Mosallaei, M. (2021). The global prevalence of familial multiple sclerosis: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC neurology21(1), 246. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-021-02267-9

Interested to learn more about this framework? Here are some resources for you

​Munn, Z., Moola, S., Lisy, K., Riitano, D., & Tufanaru, C. (2015). Methodological guidance for systematic reviews of observational epidemiological studies reporting prevalence and cumulative incidence data. International journal of evidence-based healthcare13(3), 147-153.  https://doi.org/10.1097/XEB.0000000000000054

​Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC medical research methodology18(1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4

ECLIPSE framework is used to frame questions related to management, service evaluation, service improvement, health policies, economical evaluation, and social care

Eexpectation
  • What is the information needed for?
Client
  • Who is the information needed for?
Lcation
  • Where is the service or clien?
Impact
  • What is the desired change or improvement?
  • How will you access the success ori mpact of the service?
Professionals
  • Who is providing the service?
  • Who are involved in the service improvement?
Service
  • What service are you looking for information?

 

Example Article with ECLIPSE Question

Déry, J., Ruiz, A., Routhier, F., Gagnon, M. P., Côté, A., Ait-Kadi, D., ... & Lamontagne, M. E. (2019). Patient prioritization tools and their effectiveness in non-emergency healthcare services: a systematic review protocol. Systematic reviews8(1), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-019-0992-x

Interested to learn more about this framework? Here are some resources for you

Wildridge, V., & Bell, L. (2002). How CLIP became ECLIPSE: a mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information. Health Information & Libraries Journal19(2), 113-115. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1471-1842.2002.00378.x

​Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC medical research methodology18(1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4

CHIP framework is used to frame questions for qualitative psychological research

Context
  • What is the geographical and socio-cultural context?
How
  • What is the research method of the study?
Issues
  • What issues or experiences of the population are you investigating?
Population
  • What population are you examining?

 

Interested to learn more about this framework? Here are some resources for you

Shaw, R. (2010). Conducting literature reviews. In M. A. Forester (Ed.), Doing Qualitative Research in Psychology: A Practical Guide (pp. 39-52). London, Sage.

 

SPIDER framework is used to frame questions exploring experiences or meaningfulness

Sample
  • What are the population or the group of people you are looking at?
Phenomenon of Interest
  • What is the issue or service you like to explore? 
Design
  • What type of study design are you following?
Evaluation
  • How are you measuring the outcome?
Research Type
  • Is it qualitative or quantitative or mixed methods?

 

Example Article with SPIDER Question

Althumairy R. I. (2022). Exploring the Quality of Life for Saudi Patients Utilizing Dental Healthcare Services: A Systematic Review. Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare15, 309–315. https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S344963

Interested to learn more about this framework? Here are some resources for you

​Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435-1443. doi: 10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4

Methley, A. M., Campbell, S., Chew-Graham, C., McNally, R., & Cheraghi-Sohi, S. (2014). PICO, PICOS and SPIDER: a comparison study of specificity and sensitivity in three search tools for qualitative systematic reviews. BMC health services research14(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-014-0579-0

​Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC medical research methodology18(1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4

Resources on Research Question Framework

PICO is the most common clinical question framework. If you like to explore more about other frameworks, here are some good resources for you!

Foster, M. & Jewell, S. (Eds). (2017). Assembling the pieces of a systematic review: Guide for librarians. Medical Library Association, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 38, Table 3.

Booth, A., Noyes, J., Flemming, K., Moore, G., Tunçalp, Ö., & Shakibazadeh, E. (2019). Formulating questions to explore complex interventions within qualitative evidence synthesis. BMJ global health4(Suppl 1), e001107. https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/4/Suppl_1/e001107.full.pdf