AIM: To explore the practice of mobilisation of conscious and mechanically ventilated patients and the interaction between patients, nurses and physiotherapists.

BACKGROUND: Long-term consequences of critical illness can be reduced by mobilisation starting in Intensive Care Units, but implementation in clinical practice is presently sparse.

DESIGN: A qualitative study with a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach.

METHODS: Participant observations in three Intensive Care Units involved twelve conscious mechanically ventilated patients, thirty-one nurses and four physiotherapists. Additionally seven semi-structured patient interviews, respectively at the ward and after discharge and two focus group interviews with healthcare professionals were conducted. The data analysis was inspired by Ricoeur's interpretation theory. The study adhered to the COREQ checklist.

FINDINGS: Healthcare professionals performed a balance of support and guidance to promote mobilisation practice. The complexity of ICU mobilisation required a flexible mobility plan. Furthermore, interaction with feedback and humour was found to be 'a leverage' for patient's motivation to partake in mobilisation. The practice of mobilisation found patients striving to cope and healthcare professionals promoting a 'balanced standing by' and negotiating the flexible mobility plan to support mobilisation.

CONCLUSION: The study revealed a need to clarify interprofessional communication to align expectations towards mobilisation of conscious and mechanically ventilated patients.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The study demonstrated the important role of healthcare professionals to perform a stepwise and 'balanced standing by' in adequately supporting and challenging the mobilisation of mechanically ventilated patients. Furthermore, a synergy can arise when nurses and physiotherapists use supplementary feedback and humour, and cooperate based on a flexible situation-specific mobility plan in intensive care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1493-1505
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • conscious sedation
  • early mobilisation
  • intensive care unit
  • interprofessional teamwork
  • mechanical ventilation
  • nursing care
  • patient interaction
  • qualitative research
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapists
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Critical Care
  • Qualitative Research


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