Mechanical restraint in adolescent psychiatry: A Finnish register study

Anja Hottinen, Maritta Anneli Vaelimaeki, Eila Sailas, Hanna Putkonen, Grigori Joffe, Pauli Puukka, Toshie Noda, Nina Lindberg

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Little is known of the use of mechanical restraint in adolescent psychiatry. Aims: To investigate the frequency and features of mechanical restraint in the field of Finnish adolescent psychiatry. Methods: The data were collected in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland, with seven closed and eight open wards for Finnish-speaking 13-17-year-old adolescents. The official restraint reports and the hospital files of the restraint patients from January 2009 to December 2009 were collected and analyzed. Results: Among adolescents hospitalized in closed wards, the 1-year prevalence of mechanical restraint was 9.5%. Among all hospitalized adolescents, the prevalence was 6.9%. The number of mechanically restrained individuals per 100 000 13 to17-year -old Finnish-speaking inhabitants was 57.1. The median duration of the restraint episode was 4 h and 50 min, but almost half of the mechanical restraint episodes lasted 8 h or more. A quarter of restraint episodes were not based on reasons mentioned in the Finnish Mental Health Act. The most frequent diagnostic categories of mechanically restrained adolescents were mood disorders followed by schizophrenia-related as well as behavioral and emotional disorders. Suicidality preceded 40% and violence 61% of restraint episodes. Boys were restrained during the first days of hospital treatment significantly more often than were girls, whereas one in four girls experienced her first episode of restraint after 1 month of hospitalization. Conclusions: Reducing the number and shortening the length of mechanical restraint episodes requires education of staff as well as projects focusing on reducing coercion. The clinical guidelines must be followed at grassroots level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Gender
  • Mechanical restraint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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