Acute mental health nurses’ experience of forcibly touching service users during physical restraint
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Bailey, J., Nawaz, R.F. and Jackson, D. (2020), Acute mental health nurses’ experience of forcibly touching service users during physical restraint. Int J Mental Health Nurs
Mental health nurses use forcible touch during physical restraint. Little research considers nurses’ experiences and the meanings they give to forcible touch. This study investigated nurses’ lived experiences of forcibly touching service users during physical restraint. A qualitative approach informed by phenomenology guided the study. The COREQ checklist ensured explicit and detailed reporting of the study. Fourteen nurses participated in semi‐structured interviews analysed using a phenomenological process. The participants’ experienced their touch during restraint as a problematic aspect of practice. They expressed preferences for holding different parts of the service user’s body, described their proximity to the service user’s body, and their experience of intimacy. The meanings of touch included forced, gentle, protective, and compassionate touches. Three themes revealed the complexity of this previously unproblematized area of nursing practice identified through their narratives. These were ‘needing to justify’, ‘inconsistent knowing’, and ‘compassionate whilst careworn’. Physical restraint training requires reconceptualization towards touch to help nurses connect with the meanings of their bodily contact with service users, and the potential influence upon care. Articulation of these touch meanings will help to develop a nursing discourse on this neglected area of nursing practice. Training courses orientate primarily towards techniques, whilst nurses’ conversations about touch are unclear. Training courses and practice fora can enhance understanding of the nursing contribution to physical restraint by addressing the nature of nurses’ bodywork. This discourse will help to reveal the complexity of this touch intervention, identify areas of good practice, and areas for practice development.
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- Hospital Ward 
- Nursing Research