Brief screening for suicidality in adolescents

January 01, 0001

Brief screening for suicidality in adolescents

Suicidality is a particular concern in adolescent patients. This US researcher investigated if brief standardized screening for suicide risk in primary care practices will increase detection rates of suicidality in adolescents. Physicians in three primary care practices received brief training and standardized two question set was incorporate into their existing EMR. The questions automatically populated for all adolescents between twelve and eighteen years old. Deidentified data were extracted during both intervention trials and for the same dates of the previous year.

The author reported: "The rates of inquiry about suicide risk increased 219% (clinic A OR: 2.04, clinic B OR: 3.20, clinic C OR: 1.85). The rate of case detection increased in clinic A (OR: 4.99), was maintained over 6 months after the intervention began (OR: 4.38), and was replicated in both clinic B (OR: 5.46) and clinic C (OR: 3.42). The increase in case detection was 392% across all 3 clinics. Referral rates of suicidal youth to outpatient behavioral health care centers increased at a rate equal to that of the detection rates."

The author concluded: "Standardized screening for suicide risk in primary care can detect youth with suicidal ideation and prompt a referral to a behavioral health care center before a fatal or serious suicide attempt is made."

This study suggests a simple standardized two question screen for suicidality in adoldescents can help detect patients at risk, though further study is needed.

For the full abstract, click here.

Pediatrics 125(5):938-944, May 2010
© 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics
Standardized Screening for Suicidal Adolescents in Primary Care. Matthew B. Wintersteen.

Category: P. Psychological. Keywords: suicide, adolescence, screening, EMR, primary care, intervention trial, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 1 June 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.