The use of physical and chemical restraint in elderly care settings to restrict mobility and control behaviour is not a new concept. However, until the 1980s, it was an area that was neglected in nursing research. In 1989, Evans and Strumpf carried out an extensive literature review on restraint in an attempt to consolidate the state of knowledge regarding its use in care of the elderly settings. This article aims to evaluate how far the discussion surrounding restraint has progressed since that time and in what direction. It also reviews the extent of restraint use and rationale for its application, the consequences of restraint and progress in developing alternatives.