A Step Forward for Intensive Care Unit Patients: Early Mobility Interventions and Associated Outcome Measures

Christina Bach, Breanna Hetland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background Critical illness survivors have impairments across physical, psychological, and cognitive health domains known as post–intensive care syndrome. Although physical activity can improve outcomes across all health domains, most intensive care unit early mobility studies focus solely on physical outcomes. Objective To explore the role of early mobility for adult patients in the intensive care unit by analyzing early mobility intervention studies with physical, psychological, or cognitive outcome measures. Methods This integrative review used Whittemore and Knafl’s methodology and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. CINAHL, Embase, PubMed, PsycINFO, and Scopus databases were searched for primary research articles published from 2005 through 2021 on adult intensive care unit early mobility interventions evaluated by physical, cognitive, or psychological outcome measures during or after intervention delivery. Interventions comprising only passive mobility were excluded. Results Of 1009 articles screened, 20 were included. Variations in outcome measures, measurement timing, instruments, and control groups made synthesis difficult. No study evaluated an intervention using outcome measures from all 3 health domains. Five studies measured physical and cognitive out-comes; 6 studies measured physical and psychological outcomes. Conclusion Early mobility is primarily addressed objectively and unidimensionally, limiting under-standing of the implications of early mobility for patients. Post–intensive care syndrome prevention begins in the intensive care unit; early mobility is a promising intervention for targeting multiple risk factors. Studies that measure outcomes in all health domains during or after early mobility are needed to better evaluate the comprehensive effects of early mobility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Care Nurse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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