This Australian study set out to look at the use of restraints and seclusion as responses to people with learning disabilities with behaviour described as challenging. The authors point out that the prevalence rate of such restrictive practices is difficult to agree as previous studies have not used population-level data.
They used data on the population of the State of Victoria in Australia over a 12-month period and identified that the majority of people included in the study were subjected to chemical restraint. Despite clear policy to the contrary, it was found that restraint was used routinely rather than a strategy of last resort. Some characteristics of individuals made it more likely that restrictive interventions would be used, for example, being young and male, having multiple disabilities or being on the autism spectrum. The authors point out that these findings are consistent with those in UK studies.
They conclude from the study that “systemic policy and procedural developments are needed to address current use of restrictive interventions, together with a longitudinal study to evaluate the effectiveness, of alternative, non-restrictive strategies.”
Restrictive Interventions for People with a Disability Exhibiting Challenging Behaviours: Analysis of a Population Database, Webber L et al., in Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 24: 495–507