Objectives: This study examined the characteristics of children and adolescents who were restrained during brief inpatient psychiatric treatment and identified whether restraint use was related to the characteristics of the youths or to the setting-time of day, day of the week, place, or programming. Incidents related to restraint use were also examined.
Methods: Charts were reviewed for 100 youths who were admitted to four inpatient units between December 1998 and January 2000.
Results: Thirty-one youths were not restrained, 57 were restrained once or twice, and 12 were restrained three or more times. Youths were significantly more likely to be restrained if they were male, had multiple admissions to the facility during the study period, remained in the hospital longer, had been given a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, or had a previous psychiatric hospitalization. Youths who were restrained were also more likely to be enrolled in special education or to be in foster care or in custody of the Department of Children and Family Services. Also, these youths were more likely to have a history of voicing suicidal ideation and attempting suicide. No single setting variable was significantly related to restraint use. Incidents that prompted restraint generally involved agitation, threats, or assaults.
Conclusions: Youths who were at greatest risk of being restrained during brief inpatient treatment shared particular characteristics related to greater use of inpatient services, guardianship arrangements, special education placement, and history of suicide attempts. Inpatient staff members should remain particularly alert to the processing and regulation problems of these groups of patients.