Perspectives on the experience of being physically restrained: an integrative review of the qualitative literature.

Document Type


Publication Date



Emergency Medicine, Nursing

Journal Title

International journal of mental health nursing

MeSH Headings

Humans, Inpatients, Mental Disorders, Nurse-Patient Relations, Psychiatric Nursing, Restraint, Physical


Publications providing information on the safe use of physical restraints, guidelines for restraint use, and journal articles on the care of mental health patients are frequently devoid of information regarding patients' perspectives on physical restraint. As physical restraint is a common procedure in many settings, the purpose of this review is to examine and summarize the qualitative literature on patients' perspectives on being physically restrained, from 1966 through to 2009. A formal integrative review of existing qualitative literature on patients' perspectives of physical restraint was conducted. Studies were critiqued, evaluated for their strength, and analysed for key themes and meanings. Twelve studies were ultimately identified and included in the review. Four themes emerged from the review, including negative psychological impact, retraumatization, perceptions of unethical practices, and the broken spirit. While little qualitative research on patients' perceptions of physical restraint exists, findings within the current literature reveal serious implications for patients and nurses alike. Additional research into physical restraint implications for the patient-nurse dyad is needed, and nurses should approach the use of physical restraint with caution and awareness of their potential psychological impact.



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