Early Mobilization in a PICU: A Qualitative Sustainability Analysis of PICU Up!

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2021 Apr 1;22(4):e233-e242. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000002619.


Objectives: To identify staff-reported factors and perceptions that influenced implementation and sustainability of an early mobilization program (PICU Up!) in the PICU.

Design: A qualitative study using semistructured phone interviews to characterize interprofessional staff perspectives of the PICU Up! program. Following data saturation, thematic analysis was performed on interview transcripts.

Setting: Tertiary-care PICU in the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD.

Subjects: Interprofessional PICU staff.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Fifty-two staff members involved in PICU mobilization across multiple disciplines were interviewed. Three constructs emerged that reflected the different stages of PICU Up! program execution: 1) factors influencing the implementation process, 2) staff perceptions of PICU Up!, and 3) improvements in program integration. Themes were developed within these constructs, addressing facilitators for PICU Up! implementation, cultural changes for unitwide integration, positive impressions toward early mobility, barriers to program sustainability, and refinements for more robust staff and family engagement.

Conclusions: Three years after implementation, PICU Up! remains well-received by staff, positively influencing role satisfaction and PICU team dynamics. Furthermore, patients and family members are perceived to be enthusiastic about mobility efforts, driving staff support. Through an ongoing focus on stakeholder buy-in, interprofessional engagement, and bundled care to promote mobility, the program has become part of the culture in the Johns Hopkins Hospital PICU. However, several barriers remain that prevent consistent execution of early mobility, including challenges with resource management, sedation decisions, and patient heterogeneity. Characterizing these staff perceptions can facilitate the development of solutions that use institutional strengths to grow and sustain PICU mobility initiatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Early Ambulation*
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Qualitative Research