Correlates of restraint and seclusion for adults with intellectual disabilities in community services


Miss Julie Merineau-Cote, Department of Psychology, Universite du Quebec à Montreal, C.P. 8888, succ. centre-ville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3P8 (e-mail:


Background  Some individuals with intellectual disabilities (IDs) exhibit aggressive behaviour directed towards themselves, others or the environment. Displaying aggressive behaviour is associated with a number of negative consequences such as the exposure to restrictive interventions. This study aims to identify personal and environmental factors related to the use of restrictive measures among persons with IDs living in the community.

Methods  Data for 81 adults with IDs were collected through a mail survey. The questionnaires acquired information on demographic variables, physical health and psychiatric diagnoses, medication, residential setting, support worker experience and prevalence of restraint and seclusion. The type and severity of aggressive behaviours were measured by the Modified Overt Aggression Scale.

Results  The prevalence of restrictive measures was 63.0%: 44.4% seclusion, 42.0% physical restraint and 27.2% mechanical restraint. The mode of communication, anxiolytic medication, severity of the aggressive behaviours, presence of a functional assessment on aggressive behaviours, and support workers' experience with persons with IDs were predictors of restrictive measures.

Conclusion  The results of this study have several clinical implications for practitioners working with persons with IDs who exhibit aggressive behaviours. More research is needed to expand our understanding of the use of restrictive measures and reduce its frequency.