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Management of disturbed behaviour in a psychiatric intensive care unit: views of staff on options for intervention

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2011

Richard Bennett*
Principal Clinical Psychologist, Hillis Lodge, Birmingham, UK
Vishwanath Ramakrishna
Specialist Practice Registrar, Reaside Clinic, Birmingham, UK
Dinesh Maganty
Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Reaside Clinic, Birmingham, UK
Correspondence to: Dr Richard G. Bennett, Hillis Lodge, Hollymoor Way, Northfield, Birmingham, B31 5HE. Tel: 0121 678 3110; Fax: 0121 678 3163; E-mail:
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Aims and method: NICE guidelines provide a framework for decision making with regard to the management of disturbed or violent behaviour in inpatient mental health settings, although also point to the fact that there is a limited evidence base for the use of more high risk interventions such as rapid tranquillisation, restraint, and seclusion. The current study sought to elicit the views of a team of PICU staff regarding their preference for management strategies for such behaviour.

Results: Forty-three staff assigned ranks to five intervention options: restraint to administer medication, restraint without medication, seclusion, individual counselling, and offering PRN medication. The results revealed a clear preference for individual counselling as the first choice of intervention, and offering PRN medication as a second choice. The three remaining options could not be statistically separated.

Clinical implications: The results indicate that respondents viewed the choice of intervention beyond counselling and the offer of PRN medication as an issue of clinical judgement, dependent on a range of factors relevant to the presenting clinical situation. As such they offer support for the current NICE guidelines. The results are discussed with reference to the NICE guidelines, and areas for further study are highlighted.

Original Article
Copyright © NAPICU 2011

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