Sensory Reduction on the General Milieu of a High-Acuity Inpatient Psychiatric Unit to Prevent Use of Physical Restraints: A Successful Open Quality Improvement Trial

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Impaired sensory gating in patients with acute mental illness predisposes to overstimulation and behavioral dyscontrol. OBJECTIVE: Explore use of sensory reduction interventions on a high-acuity inpatient milieu to reduce high assault/restraint rates. DESIGN: A multidisciplinary team using failure mode and effect analysis to explore high restraint use between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. observed patient/staff overstimulation contributed to behavioral escalations. The team implemented sensory reduction/integration improvements over a 5-month period to prevent excessive restraint use. RESULTS: Restraint rates dropped immediately following light and sound reduction interventions and by 72% at 11 months postimplementation. Mann-Whitney statistics for unpaired 6-month comparisons, 1-year pre- and postintervention showed significant reductions: Assault rates (median pre = 1.37, post = 0.18, U = 4, p =.02); Restraint rates (median pre = 0.50, post = 0.06, U = 0, p =.002). CONCLUSION: Sensory reduction during a high-stress time period on a high-acuity psychiatric unit was associated with a reduction in assaults and restraints.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yakov S; Birur B; Bearden MF; Aguilar B; Ghelani KJ; Fargason RE
  • Start Page

  • 133
  • End Page

  • 144
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 2