Nurses' perceptions of their role with respect to promoting physical activity in adult patients: a systematic review

M. van Hell-Cromwijk, S.F. Metzelthin, L. Schoonhoven, C. Verstraten, K. Willemieke, J.M.D. van Ginkel*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


Aims and objectives To identify the nurses' perceptions of their role with respect to promoting physical activity in adult patients and factors related to this role perceptions.Background Ageing and chronic diseases are often accompanied by a decrease in physical activity. Nurses are in an excellent position to promote physical activity, because of their close and frequent interactions with patients. However, they often fail to actively stimulate patients to physical activity due to a lack of time, competing priorities and their focus on acute problems. Unclear was how nurses view their professional role in the promotion of physical activity.Design Systematic literature review.Methods PubMed, COCHRANE and CINAHL EBSCO were searched for papers published from 2006 to September 2019. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality, using MMAT criteria. Thematic synthesis was used to analyse the data. The PRISMA statement was followed for reporting.Results Overall, 10 quantitative, eight qualitative and one mixed methods study were included in the review. Analyses of these studies resulted in six themes: (1) active and professional role; (2) the recognised importance; (3) fear of patient falling; (4) patient's present health and need; (5) interdisciplinary context and responsibility; and (6) nurses' knowledge.Conclusions Nurses perceive they have an active role in the promotion of physical activity and consider it as important and part of their professional role. Clear guidance increased education and stronger awareness of guidelines might enable nurses to translate their perceived role into daily practice. This will enhance professional fulfilment as well as patients' physical activity.Relevance to clinical practice The findings guide the development of interventions that aim to improve nursing care with respect to the promotion of physical activity and help managers and educators to provide appropriate resources and education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2540-2562
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • attitude
  • nurses
  • patients
  • perception
  • physical activity
  • professional role
  • systematic review


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