This randomized controlled trial studied whether seclusion and restraint could be prevented in the psychiatric care of persons with schizophrenia without an increase of violence.
Over the course of a year, 13 wards of a secured national psychiatric hospital in Finland received information about seclusion and restraint prevention. Four high-security wards (N=88 beds) for men with psychotic illness were then stratified by coercion rates and randomly assigned to two equal groups. In the intervention wards, staff, patients, and doctors were trained for six months in applying six core strategies to prevent seclusion-restraint; six months of supervised intervention followed. Poisson’s regression analyses compared monthly incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of coercion and violence (per 100 patient-days).
The proportion of patient-days with seclusion, restraint, or room observation declined from 30% to 15% for intervention wards (IRR=.88, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.86–.90, p<.001) versus from 25% to 19% for control wards (IRR=.97, CI=.93–1.01, p=.056). Seclusion-restraint time decreased from 110 to 56 hours per 100 patient-days for intervention wards (IRR=.85, CI=.78–.92, p<.001) but increased from 133 to 150 hours for control wards (IRR=1.09, CI=.94–1.25, p=.24). Incidence of violence decreased from 1.1% to .4% for the intervention wards and from .1% to .0% for control wards. Between-groups differences were significant for seclusion-restraint-observation days (p=.001) and seclusion-restraint time (p=.001) but not for violence (p=.91).
Seclusion and restraint were prevented without an increase of violence in wards for men with schizophrenia and violent behavior. A similar reduction may also be feasible under less extreme circumstances.