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Variation in the clinical management of self-harm by area-level socio-economic deprivation: findings from the multicenter study of self-harm in England.

Psychological Medicine 2023 October 32
BACKGROUND: We investigated disparities in the clinical management of self-harm following hospital presentation with self-harm according to level of socio-economic deprivation (SED) in England.

METHODS: 108 092 presentations to hospitals (by 57 306 individuals) after self-harm in the Multicenter Study of Self-harm spanning 17 years. Area-level SED was based on the English Index of Multiple Deprivation. Information about indicators of clinical care was obtained from each hospital's self-harm monitoring systems. We assessed the associations of SED with indicators of care using mixed effect models.

RESULTS: Controlling for confounders, psychosocial assessment and admission to a general medical ward were less likely for presentations by patients living in more deprived areas relative to presentations by patients from the least deprived areas. Referral for outpatient mental health care was less likely for presentations by patients from the two most deprived localities (most deprived: adjusted odd ratio [aOR] 0.77, 95% CI 0.71-0.83, p < 0.0001; 2nd most deprived: aOR 0.80, 95% CI 0.74-0.87, p < 0.0001). Referral to substance use services and 'other' services increased with increased SED. Overall, referral for aftercare was less likely following presentations by patients living in the two most deprived areas (most deprived: aOR 0.85, 95% CI 0.78-0.92, p < 0.0001; 2nd most deprived: aOR 0.86, 95% CI 0.79-0.94, p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: SED is associated with differential care for patients who self-harm in England. Inequalities in care may exacerbate the risk of adverse outcomes in this disadvantaged population. Further work is needed to understand the reasons for these differences and ways of providing more equitable care.

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