Research Article Open Access

Plan, do, Study, Act Cycles, as an Alternate to Action Research for Clinically Based Inquiry

Bernadette Ivy Eather1, Mary Elizabeth Chiarella1 and Judith Donoghue1
  • 1 University of Technology, Australia


Action Research has long been the method of choice when undertaking research in clinical practice improvement. It is a method aimed at engendering ownership by the participants in order to sustain practice change. Plan, Do, Study, Act cycles (PDSA) also provide a cyclical approach to clinical practice improvement research and focus the clinical team around a specific problem. Through focus groups and discussions with staff, the contributing factors to a number of patient safety incidents were identified. A series of interventions were implemented requiring staff to intervene to mitigate patient risk and decrease patient safety incidents. These interventions were introduced utilising PDSA cycles with concomitant incremental improvements in clinical processes. Clinical practice improvement resulted in a decrease in patient safety incidents. How ever, whilst individual staff were transformed as a result of their participation in the research, the culture in which the research was conducted did not change. The elements of Action Research and PDSA will be summarised and the key similarities and differences will be compared and contrasted. The inhibiting factors to using Action Research in a dynamic acute care environment will be discussed. This study will explore how PDSA cycles, with their concurrent similarities and differences to Action Research, can provide a method for researching the implementation of a system improvement solution.

International Journal of Research in Nursing
Volume 4 No. 2, 2013, 34-39


Submitted On: 15 April 2013 Published On: 11 September 2013

How to Cite: Eather, B. I., Chiarella, M. E. & Donoghue, J. (2013). Plan, do, Study, Act Cycles, as an Alternate to Action Research for Clinically Based Inquiry. International Journal of Research in Nursing, 4(2), 34-39.

  • 3 Citations



  • Action Research
  • Patient Safety
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Study
  • Act Cycles