Experiencing restraint: A dialogic narrative inquiry from a service user perspective

Cusack, Pauline orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9685-0215, McAndrew, Sue, Duckworth, Jean Ellen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6903-7520, Cusack, Frank and Mckeown, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0235-1923 (2023) Experiencing restraint: A dialogic narrative inquiry from a service user perspective. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing . ISSN 1445-8330

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.13212


In recent decades concerns about violence and programs for the minimization of physical restraint, amongst other restrictive practices, have proliferated within mental health policy and practice. Whilst nurses are often called upon when violence occurs within mental health care settings, they often find themselves having the conflicting roles of caring and controlling. Within such situations it is service users, who are experts by experience, who perhaps can offer more meaningful insight into being restrained and thus provide a more appropriate approach in dealing with mental distress. This paper presents the findings of a narrative study of individuals' experiences of physical restraint within the mental health care system. In total 11 mental health service users, who had experienced physical restraint, were interviewed. Frank's (2010, Letting stories breathe: a socio-narratology) guiding questions were used to undertake a dialogical narrative analysis of each story. For the purpose of this paper, four of the 11 stories are presented as these are representative of Frank's ‘quest narrative’. However, whilst studies from the service user perspective regarding restraint are scarce, findings are discussed in relation to the grand narrative of restraint. The dialogical relationship between individual stories and the dominant grand narrative implies that the former has the capacity to shape and review the latter within mental health care. Adding to the growing body of evidence of restraint from service users' perspectives could enable nurses to provide more appropriate and meaningful mental health care in times of mental distress. [238].

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