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J Adv Nurs. 2002 Dec;40(6):616-25.

A review of physical restraint minimization in the acute and residential care settings.

Author information

  • 1Department of Clinical Nursing, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. d.evans@adelaide.edu.au



The objective of this review was to investigate physical restraint minimization in acute and residential care settings. The first aim was to determine the effectiveness of attempts to minimize the use of physical restraint, and the second was to generate a description of the characteristics of restraint minimization programmes.


A comprehensive search was undertaken involving all major databases and the reference lists of all relevant papers. To be included in the review studies had to be an evaluation of restraint minimization in an acute or residential care setting. As only a single randomized controlled trial (RCT) was identified, it was not possible statistically to pool the findings of different studies on the effectiveness of restraint minimization. To generate a description of the characteristics of restraint minimization programmes, the reported components of these programmes were identified and categorized.


A total of 16 studies evaluating restraint minimization were identified: three in acute care and 13 in residential care. Of these, only one was an RCT, with the most common approach being the before and after study design. Based on the findings of the single RCT, education supported by expert consultation effectively reduced the use of restraint in residential care. There has been little evaluation of restraint minimization in acute care settings. The common approach to restraint minimization has involved a programme of multiple activities, with restraint education being the characteristic common to most programmes.


Evidence suggests that physical restraint can be safely reduced in residential care settings through a combination of education and expert clinical consultation. There is little information on restraint minimization in acute care settings. The major finding of this review is the need for further investigation into all aspects of restraint minimization.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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