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Title: Is there a difference between hospital-verified and self-reported self-harm? Implications for repetition
Authors: Mitchell, Alex J.
Hussain, Shahana
Leaver, James
Rajan, Chandhini
Jones, Andrew
Malcolm, Natasha
Coats, Tim
First Published: 13-Aug-2016
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: General Hospital Psychiatry, 2016, 43, pp. 12-16
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Repeated intentional self-harm (SH) is associated with economic costs and increased risk of suicide. Estimates of repetition vary according to method of data capture and are limited by short periods of follow-up observation. Some sources use hospital records and others self-reported SH (SRSH). Our aim was to examine the relationship between SRSH and hospital-verified SH (HVSH) and later repetition of SH (predictive validity). We also aimed to examine whether rates of SH repetition differ between first-time presenters and non-first-time presenters using either definition of SH. METHOD: We conducted a large prospective study tracking SH attempts through an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department within the United Kingdom. We took a representative sample of 774 patients (30% of total who reported SH) and followed them for 5.6 years on average. The index episode of SH was recorded at the time of referral to staff in A&E. Prior episodes of SH were determined from an electronic search of A&E patient database, and in addition, recollection of prior SH as reported by the patient to their clinician at the time of index presentation was recorded. RESULTS: Across the whole sample 32.0% of patients repeated SH within 1 year, which rose to 54.1% at completion of follow-up. Repetition rates were considerably higher in patients with a prior SH history than those presenting with a first SH episode after 1 year (47.9% vs. 19.6%) and by the end of follow-up (73.8% vs. 39.4%) (P<.001). Of 411 with self-reported first presentations, 45.2% repeated over the study period. In terms of predictive validity, 65.2% of those with previous SRSH repeated vs. 73.8% with previous HVSH (P<.001). There was low agreement between SRSH and HVSH (Kappa=0.353, 95% confidence interval 0.287-0.419, low). CONCLUSIONS: We found relatively poor agreement between hospital-defined and self-reported SH. A total of 62.8% of those who denied SH actually had a hospital-verified previous episode. Patients with recorded prior SH and those who recall previous SH have significantly higher rates of repetition, but the two samples imprecisely overlap and predictive validity is stronger for HVSH.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2016.08.001
ISSN: 0163-8343
eISSN: 1873-7714
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2016, Elsevier. After an embargo period this version of the paper will be an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License (, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Description: The file associated with this record is under embargo until 12 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Cardiovascular Sciences

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