Physiotherapists’ attitudes and practices towards physiologic monitor alarms in critical care: A single-centre pilot study

Deirdre O’Dowd, Annette Harte, Catherine O’Sullivan

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Desensitisation to alarms, or alarm fatigue, is a concern for healthcare staff. Little is known about how physiotherapists relate to, or are affected by clinical alarms. This pilot study aimed to explore physiotherapists’ attitudes and practices towards physiologic monitor alarms (PMA) in critical care.

    METHODS: An online survey of physiotherapists with critical care experience working at a Model 4 Irish Hospital. A sample of convenience was used with all eligible physiotherapists invited to complete the online survey via email (n = 33). Demographic information was captured, as well as information on experiences, practices, and barriers and facilitators to managing PMA.

    RESULTS: The response rate was 76% (25/33). All respondents worked on-call and weekends, with one respondent managing a current day-to-day critical care caseload. The majority of respondents (20/25, 80%) perceived all PMA as clinically important, but a workplace distraction (19/25, 76%). Negative emotions were commonly experienced by respondents on hearing PMA. All respondents (25/25, 100%) reported to notice their patient’s PMA, feeling they had a responsibility to respond. Respondents indicated varying levels of self-confidence in responding to PMA but commonly assessed the cause of the alarm (24/25, 96%) and checked the patient’s condition (24/25, 96%). Education and training was identified as a key barrier and facilitator for physiotherapists in terms of managing alarms in critical care.

    CONCLUSION: This study provides preliminary data on physiotherapists’ attitudes and practices towards PMA in critical care. Additional studies are necessary in order to verify the findings of this pilot study and further explore alarm fatigue amongst critical care physiotherapists.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-60
    Number of pages10
    JournalPhysiotherapy Practice and Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Jun 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021 - IOS Press. All rights reserved.


    • Physiotherapy
    • alarm fatigue
    • alarm management
    • critical care
    • physiologic monitor alarms
    • survey


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