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An integrative review exploring the physical and psychological harm inherent in using restraint in mental health inpatient settings

Cusack, Pauline and Cusack, Frank Patrick and McAndrew, Sue and McKeown, Mick and Duxbury, Joy (2018) An integrative review exploring the physical and psychological harm inherent in using restraint in mental health inpatient settings. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27 (3). pp. 1162-1176. ISSN 1445-8330

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Abstract

In Western society, policy and legislation seeks to minimize restrictive interventions, including physical restraint; yet research suggests the use of such practices continues to raise concerns. Whilst international agreement has sought to define physical restraint, diversity in the way in which countries use restraint remains disparate. Research to date has reported on statistics regarding restraint, how and why it is used, and staff and service user perspectives about its use. However, there is limited evidence directly exploring the physical and psychological harm restraint may cause to people being cared for within mental health inpatient settings. This study reports on an integrative review of the literature exploring available evidence regarding the physical and psychological impact of restraint. The review included both experimental and nonexperimental research papers, using Cooper's (1998) five‐stage approach to synthesize the findings. Eight themes emerged: Trauma/retraumatization; Distress; Fear; Feeling ignored; Control; Power; Calm; and Dehumanizing conditions. In conclusion, whilst further research is required regarding the physical and psychological implications of physical restraint in mental health settings, mental health nurses are in a prime position to use their skills and knowledge to address the issues identified to eradicate the use of restraint and better meet the needs of those experiencing mental illness.

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