BACKGROUND: Suicide is a major cause of preventable death, and suicidal behaviour is prevalent in acute psychiatric wards. People admitted to acute psychiatric wards often experience repeated episodes of suicidal behaviour, causing great distress and heavy use of NHS services. There is little research investigating effective psychological treatments for suicidal patients in inpatient settings although previous research has found support for psychological therapies which specifically target suicidal behaviour. This paper describes the protocol of a single blind RCT to investigate the acceptability and feasibility of a cognitive behavioural intervention targeting suicidality (CBSP) for suicidal people in acute psychiatric wards.
METHODS/DESIGN: A single blind RCT comparing treatment as usual (TAU) to TAU plus Cognitive Behavioural Suicide Prevention (CBSP) therapy (TAU + CBSP). Sixty participants (aged 18-65 years) who are suicidal, or have been within the past 3 months, will be recruited from NHS trusts in the North West of England. Our primary objective is to determine whether CBSP is feasible, acceptable and efficacious when compared to patients who receive TAU alone. Secondary aims are the impact of CBSP on suicidal thinking, behaviours, functioning, quality of life, service use and psychological factors associated with suicide. Assessments take place at baseline, 6 weeks and 6 months (end of treatment). The analysis will report on the feasibility and acceptability of CBSP. Qualitative data from staff and service users will inform feasibility and acceptability data.
DISCUSSION: Psychiatric inpatients are a high-risk group and the use of psychological therapies in these settings is rare and requires evaluation. This study is essential to investigate the unique contextual challenges involved in delivering psychological therapy to suicidal inpatients and to identify any necessary modifications required within inpatient settings. The findings will inform a larger, definitive trial.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: 15 March 2012, PB-PG-1111-26026, NIHR ISRCTN17890126 .