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Clinical Query Capture Project - Donate a Query

Veterinary Evidence: a grassroots approach to building the evidence base

"This is a really innovative approach that flips the current jaded research model; these questions now focus on what clinicians need to know rather than on what researchers want to answer."

Dr Dan O'Neill, Senior Lecturer - Companion Animal Epidemiology, and clinical query donor 

Common and important conditions

Our Knowledge Summaries answer a specific and focused clinical query by appraising the best available evidence to help reinforce or inform decision-making. The Veterinary Evidence journal is now adopting a systematic approach to obtain clinical queries so that our Knowledge Summaries cover common and important conditions.

We believe this will help veterinary professionals to see the bigger picture around these conditions, and to ask themselves novel and original queries about them.

By species, we’ve listed the common conditions so far identified in this editable Google document titled 'Common conditions question bank', and for each common condition we’ve listed seven sub-categories. For example:

Species: Cats 

Common Condition Epidemiology Diagnosis Treatment Harm Prognosis Control Prevention

How you can help

We would like your help to increase the evidence base and support the translation of knowledge and research in to veterinary practice by providing clinical questions across these seven categories on the conditions that practitioners deal with on a daily basis.

The evidence surrounding these common conditions will then be published as Knowledge Summaries in the Veterinary Evidence journal, which will provide Vets and VNs with the evidence-based information they need to help inform their decision making.

Follow these four steps:
  1. View the list of common conditions by species here: Common conditions question bank
  2. Refer to the 'checklist of information needs' document at the bottom of the page to help you identify and inform your clinical query
  3. Write your clinical query using the PICO method. See 'How to write a PICO' below 
  4. Submit your clinical query (PICO) by writing it in the appropriate tab and column in the Common conditions question bank (Google doc). It will save automatically and be viewable to everyone accessing the document. Alternatively, you can email it to the Managing Editor stating the species, common condition and sub category:


How to write a PICO


Clinical queries are written using the PICO method:

P – Patient or Population
– Intervention(s)
C – Comparison
O – Outcome

The basic methodology involves identifying the area of research, the population of interest, an intervention, comparison and outcome.

Examples of PICO could include a comparison of different surgical procedures for a condition, the use of hypertonic or isotonic fluids or the use of different medications for a specific condition.

The process of using PICO allows a direct comparison of different methods. Whilst there are some conditions/treatment protocols which do not fit into this format, it is possible to break down methodologies into small components for analysis.

PICO queries need to be specific and focused. A well-formed question:

  • makes it easier to identify and apply appropriate search terms
  • helps maximise the number of relevant articles that are found
  • makes it less likely that important information is overlooked

An example scenario might be where a client asks their vet if they have heard that neutering bitches reduces the risk of mammary tumours and asks if there is any evidence to back up this claim.

In order to find the evidence surrounding this claim and make it easier for the clinical query to be answered, we need to first turn it into an answerable question. 

Using the above scenario an example PICO framework would be:

Patient or Population adult bitches
Intervention neutering
Comparison non-neutering
Outcome mammary tumours


So the PICO question would be:
In adult bitches does neutering versus non-neutering reduce the risk of mammary tumours?

For more help with writing your query please refer to our EBVM Toolkit 1.

To see examples of PICOs please see our online list.

About Veterinary Evidence 


Veterinary Evidence is an online, open access, peer-reviewed journal owned and published by RCVS Knowledge. It aims to enhance the quality of care provided to patients by providing the veterinary profession with access to the best available evidence-based content to inform practice, study and teaching. It achieves this by publishing its own version of critically appraised topics, called Knowledge Summaries.

We take a grassroots approach to building the evidence base: we currently ask veterinary professionals for clinical queries that they have come across in practice, we then add these queries to an online list for other colleagues in the profession to answer as Knowledge Summaries. Alongside this, our new approach will provide a more systematic way to obtaining and presenting the evidence around common conditions. 

Want to get involved further?

Below are some of the other ways you can contribute to Veterinary Evidence

  • Answer a clinical query as a Knowledge Summary and add to the evidence base
  • Peer-review a Knowledge Summary and give back to your area of expertise, improve your critical evaluation skills and gain CPD
  • Tell us common conditions that are missing

If you’re interested in getting more involved in this project, or in the work of RCVS Knowledge, please contact the Managing Editor:

And remember, while we are grateful for every query donated, do feel free to provide as many as you like!

"Creating a Knowledge Summary is an excellent way of answering your own query and helping the wider profession. What are the topics that are continuously discussed or argued over at conferences? If you have time we would love to hear from you."

Mary Fraser, RCVS Fellowship Board Member (Projects & Engagement) and Veterinary Evidence peer reviewer.