Factors Associated With the Trend of Physical and Chemical Restraint Use Among Long-Term Care Facility Residents in Hong Kong: Data From an 11-Year Observational Study

Kuen Lam, Joseph S.K. Kwan, Chi Wai Kwan, Alice M.L. Chong, Claudia K.Y. Lai, Vivian W.Q. Lou, Angela Yee Man Leung, Justina Y.W. Liu, Xue Bai, Iris Chi

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However, the prevalence of restraints use has been high in long-term care facilities in Hong Kong compared with other countries and this goes against the basic principles of ethical and compassionate care for older people. The present study aimed to review the change in the prevalence of physical and chemical restraint use in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) over a period of 11 years in Hong Kong and to identify the major factors associated with their use. Methods This is an observational study with data obtained from the Hong Kong Longitudinal Study on LTCF Residents between 2005 and 2015. Trained assessors (nurses, social workers, and therapists) used the Minimum Data Set Resident Assessment Instrument to collect the data from 10 residential LTCFs. Physical restraint was defined as the use of any of the following: full bedside rails on all open sides of bed, other types of bedside rails used, trunk restraint, limb restraint, or the use of chair to prevent rising during the past 7 days. Chemical restraint was defined as the use of any of the following medications: antipsychotic, antianxiety, or hypnotic agents during past 7 days, excluding elder residents with a diagnosis of psychiatric illness. Outcomes Annual prevalence of restraint use over 11 years and factors that were associated with the use of physical and chemical restraints. Results We analyzed the data for 2896 older people (978 male individuals, mean age = 83.3 years). Between 2005 and 2015, the prevalence of restraint use was as follows: physical restraint use increased from 52.7% to 70.2%; chemical restraint use increased from 15.9% to 21.78%; and either physical or chemical restraint use increased from 57.9% to 75.7%. Physical restraint use was independently associated with older age, impaired activities of daily living or cognitive function, bowel and bladder incontinence, dementia, and negative mood. Chemical restraint use was independently associated with older age, falls, bladder incontinence, use of feeding tube, dementia, poor cognitive function, delirium, behavioral problems, and negative mood. The increasing time-trend of physical but not chemical restraint use remained significant after adjusting for other factors as mentioned above (coefficient = 0.092, P <.001). Conclusions Use of physical and chemical restraint was highly prevalent among LTCF residents in Hong Kong, with an increasing trend over a period of 11 years, especially targeting the most physically and cognitively frail older people. Appropriate healthcare staff education and policy change are urgently needed to ensure personal care that is characterized by respect, dignity, empathy, and compassion for the older generation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1048
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • chemical restraint
  • Hong Kong
  • inter-RAI
  • long-term care
  • observational study
  • Physical restraint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy

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