BACKGROUND: Violence and aggression is common in mental health care and physical restraint is used frequently. Control and restraint (general services) (C&R (GS)) and Strategies in Crisis Intervention and Prevention (SCIP) are often used. There had not been any study evaluating the outcomes of the different approaches of restraint method. AIM: To compare the effectiveness of C&R (GS) and SCIP. METHOD: A retrospective cohort study design was employed to compare the rates of disturbed incidents. The patients admitted to C&R (GS) and SCIP wards were investigated to study the effectiveness of the two approaches of physical restraint. RESULTS: The study suggests that C&R (GS) achieved better outcomes than SCIP. Patients exposed to SCIP had longer hospitalisation, were involved in higher rate of incidents of disturbed behaviour; had lower survival and higher failure probabilities and a higher relative hazard ratio. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to debate the evidence base of the various approaches currently used in physical intervention in the management of disturbed behaviour by mental health services providers. The better outcomes demonstrated by C&R (GS) challenges the current trend in and the value of mental health practice.