Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dianne Cooney Miner

Second Supervisor

William Stroud


Abstract Functional decline is defined as the consequence of physiological changes of aging resulting in the inability to perform self-care activities independently. Hospitalized older adults are more likely to decline in functional status resulting in longer length of stay. Hospital care is often focused on treating acute illness while functional status is overlooked. Low mobility and bedrest are common occurrences during hospitalization. The most predictable and probably most preventable cause of functional decline is deconditioning from bedrest and reduced mobility. The purpose of this study was to determine if an early ambulation program can maintain functional levels for hospitalized older adults who were mobile preadmission. The research design was a quantitative, quasi-experimental, equivalent control group. The intervention tested the effects of a structured walking program on functional status in hospitalized older adults. The independent variable was the mobility protocol and the dependent variables were functional status and length of stay. Data were analyzed to address the two research questions. The intervention group tends to have higher HARP scores indicating that they were more at risk for functional decline. The majority of them had the same HARP scores upon discharge which was a goal of the researcher, signifying that patients did not leave the hospital with a decline in the function with which they had originally been admitted. Those participants admitted with respiratory or cardiac disorders benefited the most from the walking intervention which speaks to their strengthening activity intolerance. Evidence exists that targeted interventions can impact the degree of functional independence for hospitalized older adults. Further research on a larger sample with more inclusion criteria is warranted.

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