Physical Restraint Use With Elderly Patients: Perceptions of Nurses and Nursing Assistants in Spanish Acute Care Hospitals

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Abstract

Background

Physical restraint is often used during the hospitalization of elderly people. However, this procedure is associated with adverse outcomes; therefore, it is necessary to be aware of the circumstances that promote restraint use, such as the perceptions of professionals who use it.

Objectives

The purpose of the research was to determine the situations in which nursing staff considered the use of physical restraint as most important and to evaluate the possible associations with the sociodemographic and professional variables.

Methods

A descriptive cross-sectional multicenter study was carried out in 52 units of eight Spanish acute hospitals. A survey of registered nurses and nursing assistants was used to collect data related to sociodemographic characteristics, experience, training in restraint use, and the Perception of Restraint Use Questionnaire (PRUQ)—which assesses the perceived importance of reasons frequently given for the use of physical restraint.

Results

The sample comprised 508 registered nurses and 347 nursing assistants. Almost all (98%) had used physical restraint, and 82% thought their training in the use of physical restraint was insufficient. Nursing assistants scored higher than registered nurses (p < .005, d = .68) on PRUQ total score and individual item scores, suggesting they thought the factors were more important in restraint use. Both registered nurses and nursing assistants considered restraint as most important in the prevention of falls and in the removal of medical devices such as intravenous lines and urinary catheters. Associations between PRUQ total score and other variables (unit type, sociodemographic factors, hospital) were nonsignificant.

Discussion

The professionals considered restraint as very important in preventing safety problems. In order to improve the quality of care, it is essential to identify the factors that can have an effect on the application of physical restraint. Educational programs are of fundamental importance, but to be more effective in reducing the use of physical restraint, they should address commonly held views on rationale for restraint use and be accompanied by institutional policies promoting a restraint-free environment.

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