The perceived barriers and facilitators to implementation of early mobilisation within a multicentre, phase 3 randomised controlled trial: A qualitative process evaluation study

Aust Crit Care. 2022 Jul;35(4):345-354. doi: 10.1016/j.aucc.2021.06.008. Epub 2021 Jul 25.


Background: Process evaluation within clinical trials provides an assessment of the study implementation's accuracy and quality to explain causal mechanisms and highlight contextual factors associated with variation in outcomes.

Objectives: This study aimed to identify the barriers and facilitators of implementing early mobilisation (EM) within a trial.

Methods: This is a qualitative process evaluation study within the Trial of Early Activity and Mobilisation (TEAM) phase 3 randomised controlled trial. Semistructured interviews were conducted remotely with multiprofessional clinicians (physiotherapists, medical staff, and nursing staff) involved in the delivery of the TEAM intervention at Australian hospitals participating in the TEAM study. Inductive coding was used to establish themes which were categorised into the Behaviour system involving domains of Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation (COM-B), which allowed barriers and enablers affecting EM to be identified.

Findings: Semistructured interviews were conducted in three different states of Australia. There were 16 participants, including 10 physiotherapists, five physicians, and one nurse. The key themes that facilitated EM were mentoring, champions, additional staff, organisation of the environment, cultural changes, communication, and documented safety criteria. In contrast, the main factors that hindered EM were lack of expertise and confidence in delivering EM, heavy sedation, interdisciplinary conflicts, and perceived risks related to EM.

Conclusion: A wide range of barriers and facilitators that influenced EM within the TEAM study were identified using the COM-B framework. Many of these have been previously identified in the literature; however, participation in the study was viewed positively by multidisciplinary team members.

Keywords: Critical care; Early mobilisation; Process evaluation; Qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Communication*
  • Early Ambulation*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research