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Open Access Research article

Physical restraint use among nursing home residents: A comparison of two data collection methods

Danielle Laurin12, Philippe Voyer13, René Verreault14 and Pierre J Durand14*

Author Affiliations

1 Laval University Geriatric Research Unit, Quebec, CANADA

2 Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec, CANADA

3 Faculty of Nursing Sciences, Laval University, Quebec, CANADA

4 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec, CANADA

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BMC Nursing 2004, 3:5  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-3-5

Published: 15 October 2004

Abstract

Background

In view of the issues surrounding physical restraint use, it is important to have a method of measurement as valid and reliable as possible. We determined the sensitivity and specificity of physical restraint use a) reported by nursing staff and b) reviewed from medical and nursing records in nursing home settings, by comparing these methods with direct observation.

Methods

We sampled eight care units in skilled nursing homes, seven care units in nursing homes and one long-term care unit in a hospital, from eight facilities which included 28 nurses and 377 residents. Physical restraint use was assessed the day following three periods of direct observation by two different means: interview with one or several members of the regular nursing staff, and review of medical and nursing records. Sensitivity and specificity values were calculated according to 2-by-2 contingency tables. Differences between the methods were assessed using the phi coefficient. Other information collected included: demographic characteristics, disruptive behaviors, body alignment problems, cognitive and functional skills.

Results

Compared to direct observation (gold standard), reported restraint use by nursing staff yielded a sensitivity of 87.4% at a specificity of 93.7% (phi = 0.84). When data was reviewed from subjects' medical and nursing records, sensitivity was reduced to 74.8%, and specificity to 86.3% (phi = 0.54). Justifications for restraint use including risk for falls, agitation, body alignment problems and aggressiveness were associated with the use of physical restraints.

Conclusions

The interview of nursing staff and the review of medical and nursing records are both valid and reliable techniques for measuring physical restraint use among nursing home residents. Higher sensitivity and specificity values were achieved when nursing staff was interviewed as compared to reviewing medical records. This study suggests that the interview of nursing staff is a more reliable method of data collection.