Risk Assessment of Self-Injurious Behavior and Suicide Presentation in the Emergency Department: An Integrative Review

Isabel Stewart, Liz Lees-Deutsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Globally, there is a lack of clarity regarding the best practice to distinguish patients at the highest risk of suicide. This review explores the use of risk assessment tools in emergency departments to identify patients at high risk of repeat self-harm, suicide attempts, or death by suicide. Methods: The review question (“Does the use of risk assessment tools in emergency departments identify patients at high risk of repeat self-harm, suicide attempts, or death by suicide?”) focused on exposure and outcome. Studies of any design were included. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines were used. Study characteristics and concepts were extracted, compared, and verified. An integrative approach was used for reporting through narrative synthesis. Results: Nine studies were identified for inclusion. Two risk assessment tools were found to have good predictive ability for suicide ideation and self-harm. Three had modest prediction of patient disposition, but in one study, the clinical impression of nurses had higher predictive ability. One tool showed modest predictive ability for patients requiring admission. Discussion: This review found no strong evidence to indicate that any particular risk tool has a superior predictive ability to identify repeat self-harm, suicide attempts, or death by suicide. Best practice lacks clarity to determine patients at highest risk of suicide, but the use of risk assessment tools has been recommended. Nevertheless, such tools should not be used in isolation from clinical judgment and experience to evaluate patients at risk. Education and training to augment risk assessment within the emergency department are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Volume48
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Suicide
  • Emergency department
  • Hospital
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency

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