Physical and Pharmacological Restraints in Hospital Care: Protocol for a Systematic Review

Wendy de Bruijn, Joost G. Daams, Florian J. G. van Hunnik, Arend J. Arends, A. M. Boelens, Ellen M. Bosnak, Julie Meerveld, Ben Roelands, Barbara C. van Munster, Bas Verwey, Martijn Figee, Sophia E. de Rooij, Roel J. T. Mocking*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Physical and pharmacological restraints, defined as all measures limiting a person in his or her freedom, are extensively used to handle unsafe or problematic behavior in hospital care. There are increasing concerns as to the extent with which these restraints are being used in hospitals, and whether their benefits outweigh their potential harm. There is currently no comprehensive literature overview on the beneficial and/or adverse effects of the use of physical and pharmacological restraints in the hospital setting.


A systematic review of the existing literature will be performed on the beneficial and/or adverse effects of physical and pharmacological restraints in the hospital setting. Relevant databases will be systematically searched. A dedicated search strategy was composed. A visualization of similarities (VOS) analysis was used to further specify the search. Observational studies, and if available, randomized controlled trials reporting on beneficial and/or adverse effects of physical and/or pharmacological restraints in the general hospital setting will be included. Data from included articles will be extracted and analyzed. If the data is suitable for quantitative analysis, meta-analysis will be applied.


This review will provide data on the beneficial and/or adverse effects of the use of physical and pharmacological restraints in hospital care. With this review we aim to guide health professionals by providing a critique of the available evidence regarding their choice to either apply or withhold from using restraints. A limitation of the current review will be that we will not specifically address ethical aspects of restraint use. Nevertheless, the outcomes of our systematic review can be used in the composition of a multidisciplinary guideline. Furthermore, our systematic review might determine knowledge gaps in the evidence, and recommendations on how to target these gaps with future research.

Systematic Review Registration

PROSPERO registration number: CRD42019116186.

Original languageEnglish
Article number921
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 28-Feb-2020


  • physical restraint
  • pharmacological restraint
  • chemical restraint
  • hospital
  • adverse effects
  • complications
  • behavioral issues
  • systematic review protocol

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