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Table 1 Inclusion/exclusion criteria in PICOS form

From: A systematic review and meta-analysis of acute stroke unit care: What’s beyond the statistical significance?

PICOS element Inclusion criteria       Exclusion criteria
Population Stroke* or stroke-like patients who had their first symptoms during the past seven days prior to hospital admission, which includes: Stroke patients who passed the acute phase (first seven days) on symptom onset
Patients admitted to hospital for suspected or confirmed recent stroke.
Patients with recent onset of transient ischemic attack (TIA) or other cerebrovascular diseases, as the diagnosis of stroke may be not certain at the admission to the hospital.
Intervention Stroke units** that accepted patients in the acute phase of stroke onset, which includes: Mixed rehabilitation ward
Mobile stroke team
Acute stroke unit Rehabilitation stroke unit
Comprehensive stroke unit  
Comparators Alternative care for acute stroke  
Outcomes Studies that reported at least one of the following endpoints:  
Number of deaths by the end of the scheduled follow-up
Number of dependent patients by the end of the scheduled follow-up
Number of patients who were institutionalized by the end of the scheduled follow-up
Composite endpoints combined by two of the endpoints mentioned above
Study design Randomized or non-randomized controlled trials  
  1. *Clinical definition of stroke: focal neurological deficit due to cerebrovascular disease haemorrhage and subdural haematoma.
  2. **Definition of stroke unit: a geographic location within the hospital designated for stroke and stroke-like patients, staffed by a multidisciplinary team with a special interest and expertise in stroke care.