An investigation into the effectiveness of sensory modulation in reducing seclusion within an acute mental health unit

Chris Lloyd, Robert King, Tawanda Machingura

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In this paper we report the findings from an evaluation of the introduction of sensory modulation (SM) in an acute mental health inpatient unit. It was expected that SM could be used to help settle patients experiencing high levels of disturbance and that as a result, there would be less need for use of more restrictive seclusion practices. The evaluation took place in a hospital in south-east Queensland, Australia. SM was introduced in one acute unit while the other served as a control. The evaluation comprised two studies. In the first study we aimed to determine whether SM reduced the level of disturbance among patients given the opportunity to use it. In the second study we aimed to find out whether the introduction of SM reduced the frequency and duration of seclusion. In study 1, we found that most patients reported marked reduction in disturbance after using SM and there was a very large effect size for the group as a whole. In study 2, we found that frequency of seclusion dropped dramatically in the unit that introduced SM but rose slightly in the unit that did not have access to SM. The change in seclusion rate was highly significant (χ2 = 49.1, df = 1, p < 0.001). Results are discussed, having reference to the limitations inherent in a naturalistic study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalAdvances in Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


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