Barriers and enablers to physical activity in patients during hospital stay: a scoping review

S.J.G. Geelen*, H.C. van Dijk-Huisman*, R. Adriaan de Bie, C. Veenhof, R. Engelbert, M. van der Schaaf, A.F. Lenssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Low levels of physical activity are common during the hospital stay and have been associated with negative health outcomes. Understanding barriers and enablers to physical activity during a hospital stay can improve the development and implementation of tailored interventions aimed at improving physical activity. Previous studies have identified many barriers and enablers, but a comprehensive overview is lacking. This study aimed to identify and categorize all published patient- and healthcare professional-reported barriers and enablers to physical activity during a hospital stay for acute care, using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF).Methods: We conducted a scoping review of Dutch and English articles using MEDLINE, CINAHL Plus, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library (inception to September 2020), which included quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods studies reporting barriers and enablers to physical activity during a hospital stay for acute care, as perceived by patients or healthcare professionals. Two reviewers systematically extracted, coded, and categorized all barriers and enablers into TDF domains.Results: Fifty-six articles were included in this review (32 qualitative, 7 quantitative, and 17 mixed-methods). In total, 264 barriers and 228 enablers were reported by patients, and 415 barriers and 409 enablers by healthcare professionals. Patient-reported barriers were most frequently assigned to the TDF domains Environmental Context & Resources (ECR, n = 148), Social Influences (n = 32), and Beliefs about Consequences (n = 25), while most enablers were assigned to ECR (n = 67), Social Influences (n = 54), and Goals (n = 32). Barriers reported by healthcare professionals were most frequently assigned to ECR (n = 210), Memory, Attention and Decision Process (n = 45), and Social/Professional Role & Identity (n = 31), while most healthcare professional-reported enablers were assigned to the TDF domains ECR (n = 143), Social Influences (n = 76), and Behavioural Regulation (n = 54).Conclusions: Our scoping review presents a comprehensive overview of all barriers and enablers to physical activity during a hospital stay and highlights the prominent role of the TDF domains ECR and Social Influences in hospitalized patients' physical activity behavior. This TDF-based overview provides a theoretical foundation to guide clinicians and researchers in future intervention development and implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number293
Number of pages13
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021


  • Physical activity
  • Mobility
  • Hospital
  • Barrier
  • Enabler
  • Theoretical domains framework
  • CARE

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