The effectiveness of restraint and seclusion interventions in the nursing management of disturbed and aggressive clients remains questionable. Considerable debate continues regarding the use of these treatment options in psychiatric hospitals. The existing literature suggests that the controversial nature of restraint and seclusion creates a complex dilemma for nurses, which initiates emotional distress. This study specifically explored the emotions and feelings experienced by a group of psychiatric nurses working in Ireland in relation to incidents of restraint and seclusion. A qualitative research approach was employed incorporating focus group discussions. A total of 23 nurses participated in three focus group interviews. The data were analysed using qualitative interpretive analysis. Three themes were created consisting of: (1) the last resort - restraint and seclusion; (2) emotional distress; and (3) suppressing unpleasant emotions. It is suggested that the nurses' experience of restraint and seclusion created a dynamic movement between the release and suppression of distressing emotions. The oscillatory characteristics embedded within the nurses' emotional responses were reminiscent of a model of suffering developed by Morse in 2001. Consequently, this model is incorporated throughout the discussion of the findings to provide a more in-depth description of the emotional distress experienced by the nurses in the study.
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