Reporting suicide attempts: consistency and its determinants in a large mental health study

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Abstract

A lifetime history (LTH) of suicide attempts (SAs) is frequently assessed in mental health surveys. However, little is known about the reliability of assessing a LTH of SA. This study examined the consistency and its determinants of reporting a LTH of SA in a large cohort of persons with a history of depression and/or anxiety. Data are from the baseline and two-year assessments of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. Persons with a Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI)-based lifetime depressive and/or anxiety disorder (N = 1973) constitute the study sample. A LTH of SAs was assessed at baseline and at two-year follow-up. Of the persons who reported at either interview a LTH of SAs, more than one-third did not report this consistent at both interviews. Moreover, indications were found for more consistent reporting among persons with a higher number of SAs and among persons with current (severe) psychopathology as compared to those with remitted or less severe current psychopathology. Our results showed that even a salient topic as a history of SAs is prone for reporting errors, and that current psychological state influences reporting of a LTH of SAs. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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