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Psychiatr Serv. 2011 May;62(5):477-83. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.5.pss6205_0477.

Systematic investigation of initiatives to reduce seclusion and restraint in a state psychiatric hospital.

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Medical University of South Carolina, North, Institute of Psychiatry, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



This study used an experimental design to examine the effect of systematic implementation of behavioral interventions on the rate of seclusion and restraint in an inpatient psychiatric hospital.


With a variant of the multiple-baseline design, a model designed to reduce seclusion and restraint was implemented at a large state-funded hospital in the southeastern United States. The implementation schedule was established such that each of five inpatient units was randomly assigned to implement the intervention components in a different order, and each unit served as its own control. Participants were patients and staff, for a total of 89,783 patient-days over a 3.5-year period from January 2005 through June 2008. The components included trauma-informed care training, changes to unit rules and language, changes to the physical characteristics of the therapeutic environment, and involvement of patients in treatment planning. The rate of inpatient psychiatric seclusion and restraint (per patient day) was tracked continuously during the 3.5-year period.


A significant reduction of 82.3% (p=.008) in the rate of seclusion and restraint was observed between the baseline phase (January 2005 through February 2006) and the follow-up, postintervention phase (April 2008 through June 2008). After control for illness severity and nonspecific effects associated with an observation-only phase, changes to the physical environment were uniquely associated with a significant reduction in rate of seclusion and restraint during the intervention rollout period.


These data suggest that substantial reductions in use of seclusion and restraint are possible in inpatient psychiatric settings and that changes to the physical characteristics of the therapeutic environment may have a significant effect on use of seclusion and restraint.

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