Understanding PP-ICONS

PP-ICONS: Med Scholarly’s Trusted Approach to Reviewing Scholarly Articles

In our quest to make medical scholarly articles more comprehensible, Med Scholarly employs the PP-ICONS method. As detailed by Dr. Robert J. Flaherty, MD, in his article “A Simple Method for Evaluating the Clinical Literature” from the American Academy of Family Physicians, this approach offers a systematic way to evaluate the clinical literature.

PP-ICONS stands for:

  • Problem: Identifying the main issue or challenge addressed in the article.
  • Patient or Population: Determining the specific group or demographic the study focuses on.
  • Intervention: Understanding the main action or treatment being studied.
  • Comparison: Analyzing what the intervention is being compared to, often a control group or another treatment.
  • Outcome: Recognizing the results or effects of the intervention.
  • Number of Subjects: Assessing the scale of the study based on the number of participants.
  • Statistics: Evaluating the data and its significance.

Benefits of Using PP-ICONS

  1. Efficiency: By focusing on the abstract, the PP-ICONS approach allows for a quick evaluation of an article’s validity and relevance.
  2. Relevance: It emphasizes outcomes that matter to patients, such as morbidity, mortality, and cost, rather than just physiological outcomes.
  3. Clarity: The method breaks down complex medical studies into critical components, making it easier to understand the core message of each article.
  4. Comprehensiveness: It ensures that all essential aspects of a study are considered, from the problem it addresses to the statistical significance of its findings.

Applicability of PP-ICONS

The PP-ICONS method is versatile and can be applied to various articles, including medical studies, trials, case series, and more. Whether looking at a study on a new treatment method or a case series on a rare medical condition, the PP-ICONS approach offers a structured way to dissect and understand the information.

At Med Scholarly, we are committed to delivering clear, concise, and accurate reviews of medical scholarly articles. By employing the PP-ICONS method, we ensure that our reviews are both comprehensive and easy to understand.


Flaherty, R. J. (2004). A Simple Method for Evaluating the Clinical Literature. American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/pubs/fpm/issues/2004/0500/p47.html