Out of the blue: Untangling the association between impulsivity and planning in self-harm

(2015) Out of the blue: Untangling the association between impulsivity and planning in self-harm. Journal of Affective Disorders. (In Press)

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Background: Planned and unplanned acts of self-harm may have distinct clinical and psychological correlates. Trait impulsivity is one factor that might be expected to determine whether self-harm is planned. Research so far has focussed on suicide attempts and little is known about how individuals engaging in planned and unplanned acts of self-harm differ. The aim of the current study was to examine how individuals who report planned self-harm, unplanned self-harm, and no self-harm differ in terms of impulsivity and affective symptoms (depression, anxiety, activated mood). Method: An online survey of University students (n = 1350) was undertaken including measures of impulsivity, affective symptoms and self-harm. Analyses made use of a multinomial logistic regression model with affective and cognitive forms of impulsivity estimated as latent variables. Results: Trait affective impulsivity, but not cognitive, was a general risk factor for whether self-harm occurred. There was no evidence of differences between planned and unplanned self-harm. Affective symptoms of depression and anxiety mediated the relationship between affective impulsivity and self-harm. Limitations: The study was cross-sectional, relied on a student sample which may not generalise to other populations. Conclusions: Trait affective impulsivity is associated with self-harm but it appears to be mediated by depression and anxiety symptoms. The exact relationships between trait affective impulsivity, depression, anxiety and self-harm require further longitudinal research in clinical populations but might lead to improved risk assessment and new therapeutic approaches to self-harm.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2015 08:08
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:17
URI: http://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/2012379

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