Reduction of seclusion on a hospital-wide level: Successful implementation of a less restrictive policy

Hermann Alexander Jungfer, Andres R. Schneeberger, Stefan Borgwardt, Marc Walter, Marc Vogel, Stefanie K. Gairing, Undine E. Lang, Christian G. Huber*

*Corresponding author for this work
47 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Change of treatment policy from closed to open ward settings has been shown to reduce coercive measures. The aim of the current study was to examine the effects of the change from closed to open wards on the frequency of seclusion and forced medication in a hospital-wide setting. Subjects and methods: 2-year, longitudinal observational study with 2838 inpatient cases. Results: On a hospital-wide level, the percentage of patients with at least one seclusion was decreased significantly (χ2(1) = 5.8; p =.016), while there was no significant change in forced medication (χ2(1) =.08; p =.775). The frequency of seclusions and forced medication decreased significantly on newly opened wards, and there were no significant changes regarding seclusion on permanently closed or open wards, while the number of forced medications increased significantly on closed wards. The decrease in seclusions on newly opened wards remained statistically significant after controlling for diagnoses and severity of illness. Discussion: Our results indicate that a reduction of overall seclusion can be successfully attained, and that, in particular, the frequency of seclusion and forced medication on newly opened wards was decreased significantly. These changes were not accompanied by a significant increase in seclusion on other wards. Conclusion: Open ward treatment was successfully implemented and was associated with a significant decrease of coercive measures in our study. It might therefore provide a good care model, strengthening the patient's right to autonomy and leading to a reduction of coercive measures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)94-99
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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