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The psychological effects on nursing staff of administering physical restraint in a secure psychiatric hospital: ‘When I go home, it's then that I think about it’

Heather Sequeira (Department of Psychiatry of Disability, ST George's Hospital Medical School, London)
Simon Halstead (Care Principles Limited, Staffordshire)

The British Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 1463-6646

Article publication date: 1 February 2004

Abstract

The study examines the experiences of physical restraint procedures reported by nursing staff in a secure mental health service. Interview data were subjected to thematic content analysis in accordance with grounded theory methodology.Nursing staff reported a range of emotional responses to the use of restraint procedures. They included anxiety, anger, boredom, distress and crying. In some cases these responses were confirmed by descriptions from patients.Staff coped with the emotional responses to restraint in a variety of ways. Some staff discussed the ‘stigma’ attached to showing feelings to other staff. They described how laughter was used to reduce stress following an incident and how distressing emotions had to be taken home. Some staff described how they had become ‘hardened’ to the experience of restraint. A substantial proportion of staff suggested that they had ‘no’ emotional reactions and many reported ‘automatic’ responding during a restraint event in which they did not feel any emotion.Possible implications of these responses and clinical practice are discussed.

Citation

Sequeira, H. and Halstead, S. (2004), "The psychological effects on nursing staff of administering physical restraint in a secure psychiatric hospital: ‘When I go home, it's then that I think about it’", The British Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 3-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/14636646200400002

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited