Affinity Diagrams

This quality improvement tool should be read in conjunction with:

The Affinity Diagram process follows brainstorming. After brainstorming the sticky notes are in no particular order. The team needs to sort them into categories.


  1. Team members silently begin to read and then arrange the sticky notes into categories (similar care processes, themes or pathways).  You will generally have between 2 and 6 categories.
  2. A HEADING is assigned to each category at the end of this process (write headings on a new sticky notes).
  3. Re-read all the sticky notes & remove any double ups.
Improvement Science Step by Step - Cheat Sheet

Improvement Science Step by Step

Brainstorming - Step 6.1


An Affinity Diagram can contain the same information as a Cause and Effect Diagram, but is displayed in a different format. This can be useful in appealing to the way different people learn.

    Figure 1: Example Affinity Diagram
    "Reasons why patients are not on a standardised anticoagulation pathway"

    Read more on:

    To learn more about Brainstorming, Affinity Diagrams and Multi Voting, please refer to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement website. You may need to take a moment and register with the IHI for more in-depth information.


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