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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1989 Jan;37(1):65-74.

Tying down the elderly. A review of the literature on physical restraint.

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School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6096.


The apparently widespread practice of physical restraint of the elderly has received little systematic research, despite reported clinical awareness of its iatrogenic effects on frail elders. Prevalence rates in various settings range between 6% and 86%, with cognitive impairment an important risk factor for restraint. Despite strongly held beliefs, efficacy of restraints for safeguarding patients from injury has not been demonstrated clinically. This paper reviews the current status of knowledge regarding physical restraint use with the elderly and suggests a research agenda and implications for ethical practice.

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