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Res Nurs Health. 1999 Jun;22(3):189-201.

Nurses' judgments regarding seclusion and restraint of psychiatric patients: a social judgment analysis.

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  • 1University of Connecticut, Department of Psychology, Storrs 06269-1020, USA.


Clinical judgment of psychiatric nurses was investigated using judgment analysis within the framework of social judgment theory. Nine nurses at a short-term psychiatric care facility made recommendations concerning restraint and seclusion for 80 patients described on paper in terms of 17 characteristics (cues). Nurses generally favored close observation of patients over seclusion and restraint, and information about current behavior and functioning had more impact on nurses' judgments than did patient history. Nurses had good insight into the nature of their own judgments. However, individual differences in cue utilization and inconsistency in strategy usage led to disagreement among nurses about specific recommendations for particular patients. No one patient received identical recommendations from all nurses, and nurses agreed with each other on specific recommendations only about a third of the time. The lack of agreement has implications for development of staff training programs and further research on the clinical judgment processes of nurses.

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