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Using and reducing restrictive measures in adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities: a survey of staff members.

Dörenberg, V., Veer, A. de, Francke, A., Embregts, P., Nieuwenhuizen, M. van, Frederiks, B. Using and reducing restrictive measures in adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities: a survey of staff members. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities: 2014, 27(4) 330. Abstract: 4e IASSIDD Europe Regional Congress, 14-17 Juli 2014 in Vienna.
Aim: Research suggests that restrictive measures are widely used with adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities (ID). Restrictive measures are defined as all measures that limit the freedom of a person. We investigated staff perspectives on the use of restrictive measures with adolescents with mild ID in order to evaluate the effectiveness of current Dutch policies on
reduction. Method: We surveyed a nationally representative sample of Dutch care professionals. 195 staff members working in settings providing care for people with ID filled out the survey (response 68.7%). Results: If there is danger, physical aggression or sexually abusive behavior almost all (87.8–96.8%) staff members consider the use of restrictive measures. The most often mentioned goals of restrictive measures are averting or avoiding danger (90.4% and 83.0%). Furthermore 63.8% of staff members use restrictive measures to calm adolescents. Very few staff were able to express how they could reduce the use of restrictive measures. Conclusion: Physical and mechanical restrictions are generally considered most intrusive, but the results show awareness of restrictive measures on pedagogical grounds (e.g. limiting the use of mobile phones and social media). Current policies do not address these ‘pedagogical’ measures, making staff members question the lawfulness of their actions. Staff training could reduce the use of restrictive measures.