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A hermeneutic phenomenological exploration of ‘last resort’ in the use of restraint

Riahi, Sanaz and Thomson, Gill and Duxbury, Joy (2020) A hermeneutic phenomenological exploration of ‘last resort’ in the use of restraint. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. ISSN 1445-8330

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Abstract

Restraining patients is a practice that dates back at least three centuries. In recent years, there has been a mandate and advocacy in various countries for organizations to shift towards the minimization of restraint, whereby its use is only as a ‘last resort’. There is growing evidence internationally indicating the negative impact of the use of restraint. However, to date there is no research specifically focusing on trying to understand the concept of ‘last resort’.Further insights to explore this concept among mental health nurses are therefore warranted. The empirical research comprised a hermeneutic phenomenological study. By recruiting and interviewing thirteen mental health nurses from across Canada who had experiences of restraint use, the research aimed to generate a deeper understanding of the meanings and lived experiences of the concept of ‘last resort’. Data were collected through fifteen in-depth interviews. Data analysis was undertaken through a hermeneutic phenomenological framework based on van Manen’s approach and Heideggerian philosophy. Five Heideggerian concepts were used to illuminate ‘last resort’ in restraint use by mental health nurses – temporality, inauthenticity, thrownness, leaping in and leaping ahead, and mood (fear). Key findings highlight the influence of nurses’ past experiences, how nursing staff adopt a collective (rather than individual) approach,and the dependency on knowledge and skills of others in using restraint as a ‘last resort’. Overall,the lived experience of ‘last resort’ is comprised of many elements. This study provides insights and an initial understanding, which is hoped to advance the field of restraint minimization.

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