Physical restraints are more likely to be used in critical care units than in other hospital units because use of invasive procedures and mechanical ventilation is more common in critical care units. Initiation and maintenance of physical restraint devices is largely a nursing responsibility. Previous clinical experience is a variable often suggested to be related to intensive care nurses’ use of physical restraints.


To examine the relationships between registered nurses’ clinical experience, their practice issues (nurses’ actions while caring for patients who are physically restrained), and their attitudes toward the use of physical restraints (feelings about use of restraints and about caring for patients who are restrained) in critical care units.


In a descriptive correlational study, data were collected online via the Physical Restraint Questionnaire. Participants’ (n = 413) clinical experience was classified by using Patricia Benner’s novice to expert framework.


No strong correlation was found to explain any variance between attitudes toward use of physical restraints in critical care and clinical experience in nursing in general, clinical experience in critical care, and nursing practice issues with use of physical restraints. However, nurses with more clinical experience were more likely to have learned about use of physical restraints in their basic nursing curriculum.


The reported lack of content addressing use of physical restraints in today’s nursing curricula is a concern, as physical restraints are commonly used in critical care units.

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