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Use of physical restraint in nursing homes: clinical-ethical considerations
  1. C Gastmans1,
  2. K Milisen2
  1. 1Center for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
  2. 2Center for Health Services and Nursing Research, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to:
 Chris Gastmans
 Center for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Catholic University of Leuven, Kapucijnenvoer 35, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; Chris.Gastmans{at}


This article gives a brief overview of the state of the art concerning physical restraint use among older persons in nursing homes. Within this context we identify some essential values and norms that must be observed in an ethical evaluation of physical restraint. These values and norms provide the ethical foundation for a number of concrete recommendations that could give clinical and ethical support to caregivers when they make decisions about physical restraint. Respect for the autonomy and overall wellbeing of older persons, a proportional assessment of the advantages and disadvantages, a priority focus on the alternatives to physical restraint, individualised care, interdisciplinary decision making, and an institutional policy are the central points that make it possible to deal responsibly with the use of physical restraint for older persons in nursing homes.

  • ethics
  • older persons
  • physical restraint

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  • Competing interests: none declared

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