Variations in the hospital management of self-harm and patient outcome: a multi-site observational study in England.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Jayne Cooper
  • David Gunnell
  • Keith Hawton
  • Olive Bennewith
  • Allan House


INTRODUCTION: Studies have shown wide variations in delivery of self-harm services but it is unclear how these relate to important outcomes such as self-harm repetition. METHODS: Data were collected on self-harm presentations and hospital management from 31 hospitals in England. Key staff were interviewed about service provision for self-harm patients and responses were mapped to a 21-item service quality scale. Our main outcome was repeat hospital-presenting self-harm within six months. RESULTS: 6347 individuals presented with 7599 episodes of self-harm during a three month period in 2010-2011. Re-attendance with self-harm within six months of index episode occurred in 21% (1308/6347) of individuals (range between hospitals 9-27%). We found little association between clinical management at hospital level (i.e. proportion of episodes receiving psychosocial assessment, medical or psychiatric admission, and referral to statutory or non-statutory services) and repetition rate. The median score on service quality scale was 14.5 (range between hospitals 10.5-19). There was no evidence of correlation between total service quality score and repetition of self-harm (Spearman׳s r=-0.06, p=0.73) or between individual service items and repetition. LIMITATIONS: We did not explore certain aspects of service provision e.g. quality of psychosocial assessments and length of admission. Hospital presentation for repeat self-harm may not be the most reliable measure of service quality. CONCLUSION: At aggregate level aspects of management and service structures did not appear to be associated with self-harm repetition rates. Future research should focus on better understanding the processes underlying the delivery of services at hospital level and their relationship to outcome.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-105
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2015