The use of restraints in hospitalised elderly people is a contentious but poorly-documented issue and many gaps remain in the literature. Despite the growth of the elderly population, there has been little attempt to safeguard their rights in relation to appropriate care whilst in hospital. Furthermore, little is known about the attitudes of nurses in the U.K. towards the use of restraints in the older population, and there is an almost total absence of cross-cultural studies. The current study is a small pilot study of nurses' attitudes towards and knowledge of restraint use with older patients. A structured questionnaire was given to 39 U.K. and 11 Greek trained nurses who were working in acute care settings where elderly patients were cared for, with the aim of identifying their perceptions and experiences of the use of restraints in their clinical settings. Although numbers were small, a number of differences between the two groups were found, and there were indications of further differences. These issues are examined, with particular reference to the need for education, restraint policies and multidisciplinary decision-making about restraint use. Some major principles which should be included in cross-cultural studies are also discussed.
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