• Physical restraints;
  • nursing homes;
  • attitude;
  • questionnaires


Purpose: Attitudes of nursing home staff, residents, and their relatives determine the decision-making process about the use of physical restraints. Knowledge of staffs’ attitudes toward physical restraints is sparse; even less is known about relatives’ attitudes. Therefore, we surveyed relatives’ attitudes and opinions toward physical restraints and compared the results to a survey of nursing home staff.

Design: Cross-sectional survey comparing 177 nursing home residents’ relatives from 13 German facilities in 2008 to 258 nursing home nurses from 25 German facilities in 2007.

Methods: The German version of the Maastricht Attitude Questionnaire was administered. Part I contains 22 items with three subscales (reasons, consequences, and appropriateness of restraints); Part II contains 16 items evaluating restrictiveness and discomfort of restraint measures, respectively. Descriptive and explorative inferential statistics were used for data analyses.

Findings: Response rate in both samples was above 90%. Mean age was 62 years (SD 12.60; range 24–93) in relatives and 44 years (SD 11.40; range 19–65) in nurses; 72% and 82% were female, respectively. Relatives assess physical restraints a little more positively compared to nurses, with an average of 3.40 (SD 0.60) versus 3.07 (SD 0.48) on a 5-point scale (5=strongly positive attitude). Relatives assess physical restraints as slightly less restrictive, with 2.11 (SD 0.33), and as less discomforting, with 2.10 (SD 0.38) points, compared to nursing staff, who assess the restraints’ restrictiveness with 2.19 (SD 0.29) points and its discomfort with 2.17 (SD 0.32) on a 3-point scale (3=very restrictive/discomforting). Both groups consider wrist and ankle belts as most restrictive and uncomfortable, while sensor mats, infrared systems, and unilateral bedrails were rated as the lowest for restrictiveness and discomfort.

Conclusions: Attitudes of nursing home residents’ relatives toward physical restraints are rather positive and generally comparable with nursing home staffs’ attitudes.

Clinical Relevance: Interventions aimed to reduce physical restraints need to include education of both staff and relatives of nursing home residents.