Comparison of perceptions and barriers to mobilization in critical care: A comparison of nursing staff and physiotherapists-A single-site service evaluation

Nurs Crit Care. 2023 Nov;28(6):1196-1203. doi: 10.1111/nicc.12625. Epub 2021 Apr 5.


Background: Mobilization is a key component in the recovery of those admitted to critical care. However, previous research has demonstrated challenges in the implementation of mobilization within critical care, including staff knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours.

Aim: The aim of the current study was to explore the perceived barriers and limitations to mobilization from the perspective of nursing staff, and to compare these with physiotherapists.

Study design: Single-site service evaluation utilizing the patient mobilizations attitudes and beliefs survey for ICU and locally developed barriers to rehabilitation questionnaire.

Results: About 135 participants (126 nurses and 9 physiotherapists) were invited to anonymously complete the questionnaires (either paper or electronic), with a response rate of 73.0% (n = 92) for nursing staff and 100% for physiotherapists. Nursing staff reported significantly higher perceived barriers to rehabilitation on both questionnaires when compared with physiotherapy staff, which was not associated with years of experience within critical care. Behavioural barriers were most frequent in both professions which included items such as time availability and presence of perceived contra-indications to mobilization.

Conclusion: Nursing staff reported greater perceived barriers to rehabilitation when compared with physiotherapists. Further quality improvement projects are now required to reduce these barriers and assist the implementation of mobilization as part of the rehabilitation process.

Relevance to clinical practice: Rehabilitation is an essential element of practice within critical care. Understanding the system, local and personal barriers will allow for improvement projects to enhance the delivery of care and improve clinical outcomes.

Keywords: barriers; critical care; perceptions; rehabilitation; service evaluation.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff*
  • Physical Therapists*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires