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Individualized Music—A Different Approach to the Restraint Issue


Nazareth College of Rochester, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY, 14618


Rehabilitation nurses who work with geriatric patients are concerned about reliance on physical restraints, as are all nurses. Controversy exists as to the benefits and risks, as well as the ethical and legal consequences, of their use. Nurses are ambivalent about using restraints, believing that they affect patients' freedom, self-respect, and self-reliance; they also often believe that there are no appropriate alternatives.

This pilot study explored the use of music as a potential alternative to using physical restraints with hospitalized patients. The research question was: Will patients have more positive behaviors, as measured by the Restraint Music Response Instrument (RMRI), while out of restraints and listening to preferred music compared with the patients not listening to music who are out of restraints while being observed? Forty medical-surgical patients participated in the study and were randomized into either the experimental group (music) or the control group (no music). The mean age of the 21 males and 19 females was 76.6 years (range 56–94). A t test for equality of means was used to determine if there were differences in the number of positive and negative behaviors in the preintervention, intervention, and postintervention phases between the two groups. There was a significant difference (p < .01) in behaviors during the intervention phase. Patients who listened to preferred music had more positive behaviors while out of restraints than patients who were out of restraints but not exposed to music.