Self-harm presentation across healthcare settings by sex in young people

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Amanda Marchant
Samantha Turner
Lloyd Balbuena
Evyn Peters
Dave Williams
Keith Lloyd
Ronan Lyons
Ann John
Published online: Nov 22, 2019


Background
Accurate data on self-harm is crucial to suicide prevention efforts. It has been previously found that around twice as many people who self-harm seek help in primary care than in secondary care. Little is known about how contacts for self-harm differ across settings at a population level. This study utilised individual-level linked data across GP, Emergency Departments (ED), outpatients and hospital admissions examining contacts across settings and time by sex for self-harm in 10-24 year olds.


Methods
A whole-population based e-cohort study of routinely collected healthcare data was conducted. Rates of self-harm across settings over time by sex were examined. Individuals were categorised based on the service(s) to which they presented.


Results
A total of 937,697 individuals aged 10-24 years contributed 5,369,794 person years of data from the 01.01.2003-30.09.2015. There were differences in self-harm contacts by demographic variables particularly with regards to sex and admissions to hospital following ED attendance.


Conclusion
This is the first study to compare self-harm in people aged 10-24 years across primary care, EDs, and hospital settings in the UK. The high rates of self-harm in primary care and for young men in EDs highlight these as important settings for intervention. Understanding patterns of presentation will inform service planning and configuration for follow-up care and could inform tailored support, for example for males in ED. Linked data provides important evidence to support the development of interventions across healthcare settings.


Background

Accurate data on self-harm is crucial to suicide prevention efforts. It has been previously found that around twice as many people who self-harm seek help in primary care than in secondary care. Little is known about how contacts for self-harm differ across settings at a population level. This study utilised individual-level linked data across GP, Emergency Departments (ED), outpatients and hospital admissions examining contacts across settings and time by sex for self-harm in 10-24 year olds.

Methods

A whole-population based e-cohort study of routinely collected healthcare data was conducted. Rates of self-harm across settings over time by sex were examined. Individuals were categorised based on the service(s) to which they presented.

Results

A total of 937,697 individuals aged 10-24 years contributed 5,369,794 person years of data from the 01.01.2003-30.09.2015. There were differences in self-harm contacts by demographic variables particularly with regards to sex and admissions to hospital following ED attendance.

Conclusions

This is the first study to compare self-harm in people aged 10-24 years across primary care, EDs, and hospital settings in the UK. The high rates of self-harm in primary care and for young men in EDs highlight these as important settings for intervention. Understanding patterns of presentation will inform service planning and configuration for follow-up care and could inform tailored support, for example for males in ED. Linked data provides important evidence to support the development of interventions across healthcare settings.

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