The practice of seclusion and time-out on English acute psychiatric wards: The City-128 Study

Len Bowers, Marie Van der Merwe, Henk Nijman, Bridget Hamilton, Eric Noorthorn, Duncan Stewart, Eimear Muir-Cochrane

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Seclusion is widely used internationally to manage disturbed behavior by psychiatric patients, although many countries are seeking to reduce or eliminate this practice. Time-out has been little described and almost completely unstudied. Aim and Method: To assess the relationship of seclusion and time-out to conflict behaviors, the use of containment methods, service environment, physical environment, patient routines, staff characteristics, and staff group variables. Data from a multivariate cross-sectional study of 136 acute psychiatric wards in England were used to conduct this analysis. Results: Seclusion is used infrequently on English acute psychiatric wards (0.05 incidents per day), whereas time-out use was more frequent (0.31 incidents per day). Usage of seclusion was strongly associated with the availability of a seclusion room. Seclusion was associated with aggression, alcohol use, absconding, and medication refusal, whereas time-out was associated with these and other more minor conflict behaviors. Both were associated with the giving of "as required" medication, coerced intramuscular medication, and manual restraint. Relationships with exit security for the ward were also found. Conclusions: Given its low usage rate, the scope for seclusion reduction in English acute psychiatry may be small. Seclusion reduction initiatives need to take a wider range of factors into account. Some substitution of seclusion with time-out may be possible, but a rigorous trial is required to establish this. The safety of intoxicated patients in seclusion requires more attention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)275-286
    Number of pages12
    JournalArchives of Psychiatric Nursing
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


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