Prevalence and predictors of restrictive interventions in a youth-specific mental health inpatient unit

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2019 Oct;13(5):1105-1110. doi: 10.1111/eip.12739. Epub 2018 Oct 16.


Introduction: The use of restrictive interventions is one of the most controversial practices in medicine. They are utilized in an inpatient setting to manage agitated or aggressive behaviour or to ensure that an individual receives the necessary treatments. However, restrictive interventions remove autonomy and adverse events can be associated with their practice. Youth-specific inpatient units (IPUs) are now being established and it is imperative that the use of restrictive interventions is reduced. In order to inform and facilitate prevention and reduction strategies, this study aimed to determine the prevalence and determinants of restrictive interventions (restraint, seclusion and medication without consent) in a youth specialist mental health IPU.

Methods: This study was set at a 16-bed youth specialist acute IPU of Orygen Youth Health, a specialist youth mental health service that provides inpatient care for those aged 18 to 25 years within a catchment area of west and north-western regions of Melbourne, Australia. A retrospective file audit was conducted of all the admissions to the unit from 01 January 2015 to 30 June 2015.

Results: Over the 6-month study period, 159 young people were admitted and this accounted for 188 admissions. Over half (54.3%) of admissions were involuntary and restrictive intervention were used in 17.6% of admissions. Specifically, 15.7% (N = 25) of young people experienced restraint, 10.1% (N = 16) were secluded, and 8.1% (N = 12) experienced medication without consent. Absent insight and involuntary status on admission were associated with restrictive interventions.

Conclusion: As youth mental health services develop, interventions aimed at reducing restrictive interventions are needed.

Keywords: coercion; inpatient; restraint; restrictive interventions; seclusion; youth mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Isolation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Restraint, Physical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult