Geoffrion S, Lamothe J, Fraser S, Lafortune D, Dumais A. (2021). Worker and perceived team climate factors influence the use of restraint and seclusion in youth residential treatment centers: Results from a mixed-method longitudinal study. Child Abuse & Neglect 111, 104825.
Background: Restraint and seclusion (R&S) are controversial methods of intervention aimed at protecting children from immediate harm in residential treatment centers (RTC). Previous studies have mainly focused on situational factors and youth characteristics to predict its use.
Objectives: This study sought to evaluate the role other potential predictors could play in the decision to use R&S, namely characteristics of residential workers and their perceived team climate.
Methods: For two months, a total of 132 residential workers from different RTC in the greater Montreal area completed weekly diaries of standardized questionnaires. Using an explanatory sequential design (i.e., mixed methods), this study aimed at exploring the role of residential workers’ characteristics (e.g., exposure to client aggression, stress and fatigue) and aspects of their perceived team climate (e.g., order and organization, communication and openness) as predictors of R&S use. Survey results were later also presented to four focus groups for discussion.
Results: Results indicated that exposure to verbal violence from youths was associated with the increased use of R&S. Meanwhile, perceived communication and openness were associated with lower rates of R&S use. Participants shared that repeated exposure to verbal violence diminished their level of tolerance while teamwork provided them with the emotional space needed to focus on the needs of youths and find alternatives to R&S.
Conclusion: This study sheds light on the complex role of human emotions in the decision to use of R&S. Specifically, intense momentary emotions during crisis interventions had a greater influence on the use R&S than chronic states, such as fatigue.