TOWARD A RATIONALE FOR THE SECLUSION PROCESS


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Abstract

The present paper summarizes three studies focusing on different aspects of seclusion room practices. The first study involved chart reviews to collect empirical data on reasons for seclusion, length of seclusion, and characteristics of secluded patients. The second study focused on staff attitudes toward seclusion; the third dealt with the attitudes of both secluded and nonsecluded patients. The average time of seclusion was approximately 4 hours and in most cases aggressive behaviors of various types were cited as the precipitating event. In addition, patient and staff attitudes implied that a major function of the seclusion process was to isolate patients from disturbing interactions and to maintain the smooth functioning of the ward minisociety. Two models of seclusion, an ethological model and a behavioristic “time out” model, were developed in order to integrate the results of these studies. Implications of the findings and models are presented for changes in seclusion room procedures.

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