Patient and family perceptions of physical therapy in the medical intensive care unit

J Crit Care. 2015 Oct;30(5):891-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2015.04.119. Epub 2015 May 8.


Purpose: Patient and family member perceptions of physical therapy (PT) in the intensive care unit and the factors that influence their degree of satisfaction have not been described.

Methods: A panel of experts developed a questionnaire that assessed patient and family perceptions of PT. Critically ill patients and their family members were asked to complete the survey. Patient and family member scores were compared and stratified by age, sex, and mechanical ventilation for greater than 14 days compared to 14 days or less.

Results: A total of 55 patients and 49 family members completed the survey. Patients and family members reported that PT was necessary and beneficial to recovery, despite associating PT with difficulty, exertion, and discomfort. Patient perceptions were similar regardless of age or sex. Family members underestimated a patient's enjoyment of PT (P = .03). For individuals who required prolonged mechanical ventilation (>14 days), patients reported that PT was more difficult (P = .03) and less enjoyable (P = .049), and family members reported PT as causing greater discomfort (P = .005). In addition, family members of patients who required prolonged mechanical ventilation felt that PT was less beneficial (P = .01).

Conclusions: Physical therapy is perceived as necessary and beneficial to recovery by critically ill patients and family members.

Keywords: Family satisfaction; Medical intensive care unit; Patient satisfaction; Physical therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness / psychology
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Perception
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / psychology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / standards
  • Respiration, Artificial / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires