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01.12.2018 | Research Article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Geriatrics 1/2018

No one size fits all—the development of a theory-driven intervention to increase in-hospital mobility: the “WALK-FOR” study

BMC Geriatrics > Ausgabe 1/2018
Anna Zisberg, Maayan Agmon, Nurit Gur-Yaish, Debbie Rand, Yehudit Hayat, Efrat Gil, the WALK-FOR team
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12877-018-0778-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



There is growing evidence that mobility interventions can increase in-hospital mobility and prevent hospitalization-associated functional decline among older adults. However, implementing such interventions is challenging, mainly due to site-specific constraints and limited resources. The Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS 2.0) model has the potential to guide a sustainable, site-tailored mobility intervention. Thus, the aim of the current study is to demonstrate an adaptation process guided by the SEIPS 2.0 model to articulate site-specific, culturally based interventions to improve in-hospital mobility among older adults.


Six consecutive phases addressed each of the model’s elements in the research setting. Phase-1 aimed to determine a measurable outcome: steps/d, measured with accelerometers, associated with functional decline. Phase-2 included interviews with key persons in leadership positions in the hospital to explore organizational factors affecting in-hospital mobility. Phases-3 and 4 aimed to identify attitudes, knowledge, barriers, and current behaviors of medical staff (n = 116) and patients (n = 203) related to patient mobility. Phase-5 included four focus-groups with unit staff aimed at developing an action plan while adapting existing intervention strategies to site needs. Phase-6 relied on a steering committee that developed intervention-adaptation and implementation plans.


Nine hundred steps/d was defined as the intervention outcome. 40% of patients walked fewer than 900 steps/d regardless of capability. Assessing or promoting mobility did not exist as a separate task and thus was routinely overlooked. Several barriers to patients’ mobility were identified, specifically limited knowledge of practical aspects of mobility. Consequently, staff adopted practical steps to address them. Nurses were designated to assess mobility, and nursing assistants to support mobility. Mobility was defined as a quality indicator to be documented in electronic medical records and closely supervised by hospital and unit management. Preliminary analyses of the “Walk FOR” protocol demonstrates its’ ability to reduce barriers, to re-shape staff attitudes and knowledge, and to increase in-hospital mobility of older adults.


The SEIPS-2.0 model can serve as a useful guide for implementing a site-tailored comprehensive mobility intervention. This process, which relies on local resources, may promise sustainable practice change that may support early effective rehabilitation and recovery.
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