Aggressiveness did not predict use of restraint in Dutch institution for people with learning disabilities


We have posted previously about the use of physical interventions in services supporting people with learning disabilities, drawing attention to the high levels of use in people described as having challenging behaviour.

The researchers in this study in the Netherlands set out to look at the antecedent factors of restraint in people with learning disabilities in institutional settings and investigate the role of demographic and psychological client variables on the rates of use of restraint in this population.

They collected data on 475 people aged 12–95 who were residents in a Dutch learning disability institution. They used an ordinal scale to rank the severity of restraint.

They found that none of the demographic variables (height, weight, age, length of stay)  was related to the application of restraint.

They did however find that the significant predictors of restraint use were the psychological variables, for example, low adaptive functioning, challenging behaviours and a relatively high intellectual level.

Interestingly, when they looked at which behaviours were the predictors of the use of restraint, they found that aggressiveness did not prove to be predictor of restraint.

This finding was unexpected and the authors conclude that this should be examined further in future research.

Client factors as predictors of restraint and seclusion in people with intellectual disability, Scheirs J et al., in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37, 2 , 112-120

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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