Use of physical restraint in nursing homes cut by half in 8 years

Research Activities, September 2010, No. 361

The number of residents at nursing homes who were kept physically restrained dropped by more than half from 1999 to 2007, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Nursing home residents who were kept physically restrained declined from 11 percent in 1999 to 5 percent in 2007. Restraints include belts, vest and wrist ties or bands, or special chairs or bedside rails to keep residents seated or in bed.

The Federal agency also found that:

  • The percentage of Asian/Pacific Island and Hispanic residents who were restrained physically declined from nearly 16 percent in 1999 to 7 percent in 2007. This group had the highest rate in both 1999 and 2007, but they also saw the greatest reduction among all racial and ethnic groups.
  • In contrast, black residents were the least likely to be physically restrained in both 1999 and 2007 (10 percent and 4 percent, respectively).
  • Use of physical restraints among American Indian/Alaska Native and white residents also declined by roughly half (from just over 10 percent to 6 percent and from just over 10 percent to 5 percent, respectively).
  • Overuse of physical restraints may reflect poor quality of care because residents who are restrained daily can become weak and lose daily functioning abilities. They are also more prone to pressure sores and other problems, such as chronic constipation or incontinence as well as emotional problems.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on information in "Long-stay nursing home residents who were physically restrained, United States, 1999 and 2007," Table 11-1-17.1 appendix to AHRQ's 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report, which examines the disparities in Americans' access to and quality of health care, with breakdowns by race, ethnicity, income, and education.

Current as of September 2010
Internet Citation: Use of physical restraint in nursing homes cut by half in 8 years: Research Activities, September 2010, No. 361. September 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/sep10/0910RA33.html