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Non-suicidal self-injury at a Canadian paediatric emergency department.

CJEM 2024 April 3
OBJECTIVE: Our primary objective was to determine agreement between non-suicidal self-injury recorded at triage and during subsequent mental health assessment. The secondary objective was to describe patients who reported non-suicidal self-injury.

METHODS: This is a health records review of patients aged 12-18 years who had an Emergency Mental Health Triage form on their health record from an ED visit June 1, 2017-May 31, 2018. We excluded patients with diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder or schizophrenia. We abstracted data from the Mental Health Triage form, Emergency Mental Health and Addictions Service Assessment forms and Assessment of Suicide and Risk Inventory. We calculated Cohen's Kappa coefficient, sensitivity, and negative predictive value to describe the extent to which the forms agreed and the performance of triage for identifying non-suicidal self-injury. We compared the cohort who reported non-suicidal self-injury with those who did not, using t-tests, Wilcoxon rank-sum tests, and chi-square tests.

RESULTS: We screened 955 ED visits and included 914 ED visits where 558 (58.4%) reported a history of non-suicidal self-injury. There were significantly more females in the group reporting non-suicidal self-injury (82.1%, n = 458) compared to the group not reporting non-suicidal self-injury (45.8%, n = 163). Patients reporting non-suicidal self-injury did so in triage and detailed Mental Health Assessment 64.7% of the time (Cohen's Kappa Coefficient 0.6); triage had sensitivity of 71.5% (95% CI 67.3-75.4) and negative predictive value of 71.2% (95% CI 68.2-74.0). Cutting was the most common method of non-suicidal self-injury (80.3%).

CONCLUSION: Screening at triage was moderately effective in identifying non-suicidal self-injury compared to a detailed assessment by a specialised mental health team. More than half of children and adolescents with a mental health-related concern in our ED reported a history of non-suicidal self-injury, most of which were female. This symptom is important for delineating patients' coping strategies.

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