An integrative review exploring the physical and psychological harm inherent in using restraint in mental health inpatient settings – 2018

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.

Pauline Cusack PG Cert HE, MSc, BA (Hons.), Dip. SW.,
Frank Patrick Cusack PG Cert HE, MSc, BSc, Dip. Man. of Care services, Dip. Hypno Psychotherapy, Dip. SW, PQSW.,
Sue McAndrew PhD, MSc, BSc,
Mick McKeown PhD, BA (Hons), DPSN, RMN, RGN,
Joy Duxbury PhD, MA, PG Cert HE, BSc.
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 19 January 2018
DOI: 10.1111/inm.12432