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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
E-pub ahead of print

Patients’ experiences with physical holding and mechanical restraint in the psychiatric care: an interview study

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In the continuous work to reduce the use of coercion in psychiatric care, attention in Denmark has especially been directed towards mechanical restraint. While the use of mechanical restraint is currently decreasing, an increase in other types of coercion is observed (e.g. medication and hour-long episodes of physical holding). Physical holding has, in this cultural context, been considered less intrusive to a patient’s autonomy than the use of mechanical restraint. However, no study has yet compared the experiences of the patients on these two types of coercion in the same population. The objective of this study was to explore patients’ perspectives on physical holding and mechanical restraint, respectively.

Audio-recorded, semi-structured interviews following an interview guide were conducted with patients sharing their experiences with both types of coercion. The interviews were transcribed verbatim. The analytical approach was based on the principles of thematic content analysis.

Nine informants were interviewed between September 2020 and April 2021. Four main themes were identified: experiences with physical holding, experiences with mechanical restraint, the effects of coercion on patients and their relation to mental health care, and improved mental health care.

It is inconclusive which type of restraint the patients preferred. This challenges the present hierarchy of coercive measures. To avoid coercion in the first place more communication and time with the patient are needed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

    Research areas

  • Coercion, mechanical restraint, patient preference, physical holding

ID: 79046362