Perceptions of nurses working with psychiatric consumers regarding the elimination of seclusion and restraint in psychiatric inpatient settings and emergency departments: An Australian survey [2018]

Seclusion and restraint continue to be used across psychiatric inpatient and emergency settings, despite calls for elimination and demonstrated efficacy of reduction initiatives. This study investigated nurses’ perceptions regarding reducing and eliminating the use of these containment methods with psychiatric consumers. Nurses (n = 512) across Australia completed an online survey examining their views on the possibility of elimination of seclusion, physical restraint, and mechanical restraint as well as perceptions of these practices and factors influencing their use. Nurses reported working in units where physical restraint, seclusion, and, to a lesser extent, mechanical restraint were used. These were viewed as necessary last resort methods to maintain staff and consumer safety, and nurses tended to disagree that containment methods could be eliminated from practice. Seclusion was considered significantly more favourably than mechanical restraint with the elimination of mechanical restraint seen as more of a possibility than seclusion or physical restraint. Respondents accepted that use of these methods was deleterious to relationships with consumers. They also felt that containment use was a function of a lack of resources. Factors perceived to reduce the likelihood of seclusion/restraint included empathy and rapport between staff and consumers and utilizing trauma‐informed care principles. Nurses were faced with threatening situations and felt only moderately safe at work, but believed they were able to use their clinical skills to maintain safety. The study suggests that initiatives at multiple levels are needed to help nurses to maintain safety and move towards realizing directives to reduce and, where possible, eliminate restraint use.

Adam Gerace BPsych(Hons), PhD Eimear Muir‐Cochrane BSc(Hons), RN, Credentialed Mental Health Nurse, Grad Dip Adult Ed, MNS, PhD

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 18 July 2018