General practitioners’ accounts of patients who have self-harmed: a qualitative, observational study

Chandler, Amy and Burton, Christopher and Platt, Stephen (2016) General practitioners’ accounts of patients who have self-harmed: a qualitative, observational study. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 37 (1). pp. 42-50. ISSN 0227-5910

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000325

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Abstract

Background: The relationship between self-harm and suicide is contested. Self-harm is simultaneously understood to be largely nonsuicidal but to increase risk of future suicide. Little is known about how self-harm is conceptualized by general practitioners (GPs) and particularly how they assess the suicide risk of patients who have self-harmed. Aims: The study aimed to explore how GPs respond to patients who had self-harmed. In this paper we analyze GPs’ accounts of the relationship between self-harm, suicide, and suicide risk assessment. Method: Thirty semi-structured interviews were held with GPs working in different areas of Scotland. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed thematically. Results: GPs provided diverse accounts of the relationship between self-harm and suicide. Some maintained that self-harm and suicide were distinct and that risk assessment was a matter of asking the right questions. Others suggested a complex inter-relationship between self-harm and suicide; for these GPs, assessment was seen as more subjective. In part, these differences appeared to reflect the socioeconomic contexts in which the GPs worked. Conclusion: There are different conceptualizations of the relationship between self-harm, suicide, and the assessment of suicide risk among GPs. These need to be taken into account when planning training and service development.

Keywords:self-harm, suicide, general practice, inequalities, mental health, JCOpen
Subjects:L Social studies > L310 Applied Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:20139
Deposited On:28 Jan 2016 17:35

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