Restraint reduction reduces serious injuries among nursing home residents

Richard R. Neufeld, Leslie S. Libow, William J. Foley, Joan M. Dunbar, Camille Cohen, Brenda Breuer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To describe how removing physical restraints affected injuries in nursing home settings. DESIGN: A 2-year prospective study of an educational intervention for physical restraint reduction. SETTING: Sixteen diverse nursing homes with 2075 beds in California, Michigan, New York, and North Carolina. PARTICIPANTS: Study A: 859 residents who were physically restrained at the onset of the intervention on October 1, 1991. Study B: all residents who occupied the 2075 beds in the 16 facilities 3 months before the intervention and 3 months after its completion. INTERVENTION: Educational program for nursing home staff followed by quarterly site consultations to participating nursing homes. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rate of physical restraint use and injuries. RESULTS: Study A: Serious injuries declined significantly among the 859 residents restrained initially when restraint orders were discontinued (χ2 = 6.2, P = .013). Study B: During the intervention period, physical restraint use among the 2075 residents decreased from 41% to 4%, a 90% reduction. The decrease in the percentage of injuries of moderate to serious severity was significant (i.e., 7.5% vs 4.4%, P(2-tail) = .0004) as was the rate of moderate and serious injuries combined (Rate Ratio = 1.580, P(2-tail) = .0033). CONCLUSIONS: A substantial decrease in restraint use occurred without an increase in serious injuries. Although minor injuries and falls increased, restraint-free care is safe when a comprehensive assessment is done and restraint alternatives are used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1202-1207
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999


  • Injuries
  • Nursing homes
  • Restraint reduction


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