Control and restraint in contemporary psychiatric nursing: some ethical considerations


  • John Hopton RMN MA RCNT

    Corresponding author
    1. 1Nurse Teacher, Northern College of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Studies, Greater Manchester, and Part-Time Research Student, Centre for Studies m Crime and Social Justice, Edge Hill University College, Ormskirk, England
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John Hopton 64 Pevenl Close, Whitefield Manchester M45 6NR England.


This paper begins with an exploration of current attitudes towards the use of physical restraint m psychiatric nursing, and the contributions which the 1985 Ritchie Report and the 1991 Report of the Committee Of Inquiry Into Ashworth Hospital have made to the debate on the use of control and restraint within psychiatric institutions The man focus of the paper, though, is an evaluation of the ethical justifications for and the ethical and political objections to the use of physical restraint techniques as a response to aggressive and self-injurious behaviour in contemporary mental health nursing practice The author concludes that the number of situations where control and restraint techniques are used might be reduced by the development of new therapeutic approaches Such approaches should allow for more negotiation regarding care between clients and nurses, and acknowledge the potential benefits of clients resisting supposedly therapeutic interventions which they find unhelpful