Primary care contact prior to suicide in individuals with mental illness

Pearson, Anna, Saini, Pooja ORCID: 0000-0002-4981-7914, Da Cruz, Damian, Miles, Caroline, While, David, Swinson, Nicola, Williams, Alyson, Shaw, Jenny, Appleby, Louis and Kapur, Navneet
(2009) Primary care contact prior to suicide in individuals with mental illness. BRITISH JOURNAL OF GENERAL PRACTICE, 59 (568). pp. 825-832.

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<h4>Background</h4>Previous studies have reported differing rates of consultation with GPs prior to suicide. Patients with a psychiatric history have higher rates of consultation and consult closer to the time of their death.<h4>Aim</h4>To investigate the frequency and nature of general practice consultations in the year before suicide for patients in current, or recent, contact with secondary mental health services.<h4>Design of study</h4>Retrospective case-note study and semi-structured interviews.<h4>Setting</h4>General practices in the northwest of England.<h4>Method</h4>General practice data were obtained by a retrospective review of medical records (n = 247) and semi-structured interviews with GPs (n = 159).<h4>Results</h4>GP records were reviewed in 247 of the 286 cases (86%). Overall, 91% of individuals (n = 224) consulted their GP on at least one occasion in the year before death. The median number of consultations was 7 (interquartile range = 3-10). Interviews were carried out with GPs with regard to 159 patients. GPs reported concerns about their patient's safety in 43 (27%) cases, but only 16% of them thought that the suicide could have been prevented. Agreement between GPs and mental health teams regarding risk of suicide was poor. Both sets of clinicians rated moderate to high levels of risk in only 3% of cases for whom information was available (n = 139) (overall kappa = 0.024).<h4>Conclusion</h4>Consultation prior to suicide is common but suicide prevention in primary care is challenging. Possible strategies might include examining the potential benefits of risk assessment and collaborative working between primary and secondary care.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: general practice, mental health services, risk assessment, suicide
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2017 08:32
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:06
DOI: 10.3399/bjgp09X472881
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