Barriers to and solutions for improving physical activity in adults during hospital stay: a mixed-methods study among healthcare professionals

Sven J. G. Geelen*, Boukje M. Giele, Raoul H. H. Engelbert, Sandra de Moree, Cindy Veenhof, Frans Nollet, Fenna van Nes, Marike van der Schaaf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: To identify healthcare professionals’ perspectives on key barriers to improving physical activity in hospitalized adult patients, and to identify solutions to overcome these barriers. Methods: We used an explanatory sequential mixed-methods study design in a Dutch university hospital. A survey exploring 39 potential barriers was completed by 15 physicians/physician assistants, 106 nurses, four nursing assistants, and four physical therapists working on surgery, internal medicine, and cardiology wards. Next, three in-depth semi-structured focus groups–comprising 30 healthcare professionals–discussed the survey findings to identify key barriers and solutions. Focus group discussions were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Five themes were identified that described both the key barriers and the solutions to overcome these barriers. Healthcare professionals proposed several solutions, including clarifying the definition of physical activity, empowering patients to take responsibility for physical activity, giving physical therapists or physicians a prominent role in encouraging physical activity, and changing the hospital ward to entice patients to become physically active. Conclusions: Healthcare professionals need clear guidelines, roles, and responsibilities when it comes to physical activity. They also need personalized interventions that empower patients in physical activity. Finally, hospital wards should be designed and furnished so that patients are encouraged to be active.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Many healthcare professionals want to sustainably improve physical activity in hospitalized adults. For this they need clear guidelines that not only define physical activity, but also describe the roles and responsibilities of all members of the medical team. Healthcare professionals need interventions that help to empower patients to take an active role in physical activity during hospital stay. Hospital wards should be designed and furnished so that patients are encouraged to be physically active.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4004-4013
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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