Constructing a good clinical question in order to use it to seach the literature effectively is challenging, and a fundamental skill that needs to be learnt alongside all other clinical skills.
A useful way to analyse or dissect the topic into its core components is to use parts of PICO, namely the patient (or population), the exposure (or intervention) and the outcome (which may be explicit, or implicit). However, as you have been shown, it is not always necessary to include all four facets (components) in your PICO search statement, especially if you can find suitable MeSH terms to use in your search. By using the prognosis filter in your Clinical Query search on binge drinking, for example, you will automatically include the prognosis for long-term mortalilty, as well as other outcomes, so you do not need to add all other possible outcomes to your search strategy initially. Sometimes your search will yield too few results if your search strategy is too specific.
The ONLY way to become skilled in analysing the topic, and being able to construct a good search strategy is to practise as often as possible.
Use the following examples to practise analysing the topic:
1. Scenario: There is a difference of opinion about treatment for teenage girls with UTI. One option is to use bactrim; the other is to use macrodantin. Find the strongest evidence for the use of either treatment.
Formulate a searchable question using this scenario.