International Journal of Research in Nursing

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

Bernadette Ivy Eather, Mary Elizabeth Chiarella and Judith Donoghue

DOI : 10.3844/ijrnsp.2013.34.39

International Journal of Research in Nursing

Volume 4, Issue 2

Pages 34-39


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.


© 2013 Bernadette Ivy Eather, Mary Elizabeth Chiarella and Judith Donoghue. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.