Mobilization in the evening reduces delirium in critically ill patients: the MENTAL randomized, controlled trial

Peter Nydahl, David McWilliams, Norbert Weiler, Christoph Borzikowsky, Fiona Howroyd, Angelika Brobeil, Matthias Kott, Rebecca von Haken

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprintpeer-review


Background : Delirium is a common complication in patients on Intensive Care Units (ICU). Caring interventions such as early mobilization are effective in prevention and treatment of delirium, but are recommended during daytime. It may be effective in the night, too.

Method : The aim of this study was to prove the effect of mobilization in the evening to prevent or treat ICU patients from delirium. The design was a multicentric, randomized, controlled trial in 5 mixed ICUs over a period of 2 weeks with max. 28 days follow-up. Patients in the intervention group were mobilized onto the edge of the bed or more between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. by an additional mobilization team, following safety criteria. Patients in the control group received usual care. Primary outcome parameter was the duration of a delirium. Secondary parameters were presence of delirium, mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation (MV) and stay, feasibility, and mobilization-related complications.

Results : In summary, n=69 patients could be analysed (intervention n=36, control n=33). Due to limited resources, the trial was stopped and reached 62% of targeted sample size. Mobilization in the evening did not significantly reduce duration of existing delirium, delirium presence, length of MV or days in ICU and hospital for 28 days follow-up. In an unplanned post-hoc analysis, mobilization in the evening prevented patients from delirium in the first four days (6 (16.7%) vs. 13 (39.4%), p=0.032), with a number needed to treat of 5. The intervention was feasible in 71.7% of eligible patients, with 13.6% unwanted safety events.

Conclusions : In a mixed ICU population, mobilization in the evening did not show a reduction in duration of delirium, MV or length of stay, but a reduction in the incidence of early onset delirium. Mobilization between 9:00 and 11:00 pm. by an interprofessional mobilization team may prevent patients from delirium. The intervention was feasible, safe, and accepted by most patients.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherResearch Square
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • delirium
  • early mobilization
  • Intensive Care Unit
  • rehabilitation


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