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Research Division

Family Medicine

PDSA Cycle

Plan-Do-Study-Act: the PDSA Cycle

Setting Aims
Improvement requires setting aims. The aim should be time-specific and measurable; it should also define the specific population of patients that will be affected.

Establishing Measures
Teams use quantitative measures to determine if a specific change actually leads to an improvement.

Selecting Changes
All improvement requires making changes, but not all changes result in improvement. Organizations therefore must identify the changes that are most likely to result in improvement.

Testing Changes
The Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle is shorthand for testing a change in the real work setting by planning it, trying it, observing the results, and acting on what is learned. This is the scientific method used for action-oriented learning.

Implementing Changes
After testing a change on a small scale, learning from each test, and refining the change through several PDSA cycles, the team can implement the change on a broader scale for example, for an entire pilot population or on an entire unit.

Spreading Changes
After successful implementation of a change or package of changes for a pilot population or an entire unit, the team can spread the changes to other parts of the organization or in other organizations.

Go to Step 1: Setting Aims/Goals & Planning Change
Go to Step 2: Forming Teams
Go to Step 3: Establishing Measures
Go to Step 4: Testing Change/Testing the Intervention
Go to Step 5: Implementing Change
Go to Step 6: Spreading Change

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