A1.1. Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)

Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) - every improvement is an experiment

What should I expect the outcomes to be of using the tool?

The process and results should be captured on a worksheet. This can serve as a record of your improvement that can help with sharing learning.

Tool/ method

PDSA is the way we want you to think about improvement.

PDSA provides a framework for developing, testing and implementing change that may lead to improvement.PDSA can be used to test out any planned improvement or change in work process on a small scale, in small steps.

This tool may also be known as PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act).

Why we may choose to use this tool/ method?

PDSA encourages us to test the change in a structured way before we jump into wholesale implementation. It helps us to measure our success when things go well or learn when things do not.


Multiple PDSA cycles can be carried out building on learning at each stage.

How you might use this tool/ method?

PDSA follows 4 simple and sequential steps:

Plan: The change to be implemented

Do: Carry out the change

Study: Based on the measurable outcomes agreed before starting out, collect data before and after the change and reflect on the impact of the change and what was learned

Act: Scale up or standardise the improvement or plan the next PDSA cycle

What next?

Multiple and simultaneous PDSA cycles may be used when the planned change is complex or if further improvements are required.

Only implement the idea when you're confident you have considered and tested all the possible ways of achieving the change.

Examples/ case studies/ links to best practice/ evidence


Further information can be found on:

Contact for further information

Suzanne Hamilton, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust



Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) Cycle


Templates and visualisations: