Behind Closed Doors: Involuntary Treatment in Care of Persons with Cognitive Impairment at Home in the Netherlands

Jan P. H. Hamers*, Michel H. C. Bleijlevens, Math J. M. Gulpers, Hilde Verbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives To explore the prevalence and associated factors of involuntary treatment (physical restraints, psychotropic medication, nonconsensual care) in persons with cognitive impairment receiving home care. DesignCross-sectional survey using association analyses. SettingProfessional home care in the southern part of the Netherlands. ParticipantsData were collected on 837 persons with cognitive impairment (mean age 81.6; 60% female). MeasurementsInvoluntary treatment was measured using a tool to identify physical restraints, psychotropic medication, and nonconsensual care. Activities of daily living (ADLs) were measured using the ADL Hierarchy subscale of the Resident Assistant InstrumentMinimum Data Set and cognitive status using the Cognitive Performance Scale. Informal caregiver burden was assessed using the Self-Perceived Pressure from Informal Care Scale. ResultsInvoluntary treatment was used in 39% of the total sample. Most common were nonconsensual care (79%; e.g., concealing medication in food, forcing hygiene) and psychotropic medication (41%). In 7% of the sample, physical restraints (e.g., deep or overturned chair, bilateral full-enclosure bedrails) were used. Caregiver burden, ADL dependency, cognitive status, living alone, and a diagnosis of dementia were strongly associated with involuntary treatment. The family of the person with cognitive impairment most often requested the use of involuntary treatment. ConclusionInvoluntary treatment is often used in persons with cognitive impairment receiving home care in the Netherlands. Future research should focus on understanding and preventing inappropriate involuntary treatment in home care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-358
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • involuntary treatment
  • physical restraints
  • psychotropic medication
  • nonconsensual care
  • cognitive impairment
  • dementia
  • home care


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