Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle


Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle


The Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle is part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Model for Improvement, a simple yet powerful tool for accelerating quality improvement. Once a team has set an aim, established its membership, and developed measures to determine whether a change leads to an improvement, the next step is to test a change in the real work setting. The PDSA cycle is shorthand for testing a change—by planning it, trying it, observing the results, and acting on what is learned. This is the scientific method, used for action-oriented learning.

The steps in the PDSA cycle are:

  • Step 1: Plan—Plan the test or observation, including a plan for collecting data
  • Step 2: Do—Try out the test on a small scale
  • Step 3: Study—Set aside time to analyze the data and study the results
  • Step 4: Act—Refine the change, based on what was learned from the test
The site also includes:
  • Linking tests of change
  • Testing multiple changes
  • Tips for testing changes
  • Example of a test of change
  • PDSA worksheet
  • Project planning form


Associates in Process Improvement

Funding Sources:

Institute for Healthcare Improvement


Release Date: 2008
Original Summary: November 2008
Last Updated: 04/10/13

Disclaimer: The inclusion of a tool in the Innovations Exchange does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or Westat of the tool or of the submitter or developer of the tool.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.