Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Deconditioning occurs in critically ill patients as early as 4 days after entering the intensive care unit (ICU) resulting in a loss of up to 25% peripheral muscle tone and 18% body weight by the time the patient is discharged. Early mobility (EM) has been shown to reduce complications such as neuromuscular weakness, muscle wasting, pneumonia, and the effects of prolonged periods of time on the ventilator. No formal education on EM had been provided to nurses at the clinical site. The purpose of this project was to develop an educational program on EM to promote early ambulation of critically ill ICU patients. The theory of knowledge to action was used to guide the development of the educational program. The practice-focused question addressed whether an educational program would improve nurses' perceptions of their knowledge of EM and if they would promote the use of EM among ICU patients. After a literature review to identify evidence-based practices and a protocol on EM, an educational program was developed that included a 25-item Likert-style pretest and posttest to measure percent agreement with perceptions of knowledge gained and likelihood of behavior change related to the practice of EM. Participants included 60 ICU nurses. Results demonstrated improvement in perceptions of knowledge of EM (from 74% before education to 88% after) and in likelihood of behavior change related to EM (from 69% before education to 91% after). Findings may be used to integrate EM into the ICU setting to reduce complications such as neuromuscular weakness, muscle wasting, and pneumonia. Results may also include improved patient outcomes, reduced length of stay, and increased quality of life for patients and their families, and thereby promote positive social change.