Ambulation of patients who are mechanically ventilated: nurses' views
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence & Practice    

Ambulation of patients who are mechanically ventilated: nurses' views

Lee Curtis Senior lecturer, Buckinghamshire New University, Uxbridge, UK
Julie Irwin Academic enhancement manager, Buckinghamshire New University, Uxbridge, UK

Equipment and skills in intensive care have advanced dramatically, and early rehabilitation and ambulation for patients in intensive care units (ICUs) are part of their journey to recovery. The aim of this study is to understand better nurses' perspectives on ambulating mechanically ventilated patients, and to determine why this is not a routine part of ICU patient care.


Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to extract data from semi-structured interviews. The questions were piloted twice before being used in the main study.


Results identified two overarching themes, staff anxiety and organisational culture, within which there are several subthemes. The study also found that education and training programmes could increase staff confidence and consequently result in routine ambulation of mechanically ventilated patients.


The study identified that nursing staff are aware of the benefits of ambulation for patients in ICUs, but the personal satisfaction gained from undertaking this activity does not outweigh the anxiety it causes. This is compounded by the organisational culture of ICUs; for example, the hierarchical pyramid of leadership, which dictates that consultants decide when patients are ready to ambulate.

Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2017.e1599


Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 08 November 2016

Accepted: 21 March 2017

Published online: 05 June 2017

Want to read more?

Already have access? Log in


3-month trial offer for £5.25/month

Subscribe today and save 50% on your first three months
RCNi Plus users have full access to the following benefits:
  • Unlimited access to all 10 RCNi Journals
  • RCNi Learning featuring over 175 modules to easily earn CPD time
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Revalidation Portfolio to stay on track with your progress
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
  • A customisable dashboard with over 200 topics

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now

Are you a student? Our student subscription has content especially for you.
Find out more