The following article features coverage from ONS Bridge 2020. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Introduction of the mobility tech, a new role intended to facilitate ambulation of hospitalized patients on the oncology and bone marrow transplant units, was associated with improvements in patient activities of daily living (ADLs), according to a poster presentation on the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Bridge, a virtual conference.

Hospitalization frequently has a negative impact on the ability of inpatients to carry out ADLs because they spend most of their time in bed. Despite mobility challenges affecting many hospitalized patients with cancer and the recognition that mobility is an important component of cancer survivorship, research on approaches to increase the mobility of these patients is scarce. 

A new position of mobility tech was added to the Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Units at the University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora, Colorado. The mobility techs were drawn from certified nursing assistant staff and trained by nurses and physical therapists at the hospital. Patients requiring assistance from the mobility tech were identified based on feedback from staff, as well as chart reviews.

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Perceptions of staff regarding the impact of the mobility tech role were assessed using surveys completed prior to and after the new position was filled. In addition, patient charts were reviewed over a 5-month period for information on patient mobilization rates and missed cares.

Key findings of this study were that 97% of staff found the mobility techs to be helpful all or most of the time. In addition, the percentage of nursing staff who perceived that there was insufficient time for patient ambulation decreased by 40% following introduction of the mobility techs.

Furthermore, bathing, linen changes, mouth care, and daily weights were reported to increase by 33%, 53%, 40%, and 6%, respectively, among oncology patients and 1%, 33%, 20%, and 34%, respectively, among patients in BMT units.

In summarizing the results of this study, the presenting author, Rebecca Ashburn, BSN, stated that “this project emphasizes the impact a specially trained mobility tech can have on patient ambulation and ADLs on a medical-surgical oncology unit.”

She further added that “this nurse-driven initiative can be implemented in other oncology inpatient settings to optimize mobility for oncology patients.”


Ashburn R. Changing the culture of inpatient mobility: The effects of a mobility tech in the inpatient oncology population. Presented at: ONS Bridge; September 8-17, 2020. Accessed September 17, 2020.