Self-harm in nurses: prevalence and correlates

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Abstract

Aims.

The aim of this study was to examine the weighed prevalence of self-harm and its correlates among Hong Kong nurses.

Background.

Recent epidemiological data suggest that the weighted prevalence of past-year suicidality among Hong Kong nurses was found to be 14·9%. Deliberate self-harm was a significant correlate of suicidality. Nonetheless, there are few population-based studies exploring the prevalence of self-harm and its correlates among medical occupational groups in Asia.

Design.

The study uses a cross-sectional survey design.

Method.

Data were collected in Hong Kong over a four-week period from October–November 2013. Statistical methods, including binary and multivariate logistic regression models, were used to examine the weighted prevalence of self-harm and its associated factors in nurses.

Results.

A total of 850 nurses participated in the study. Seventy-nine participants (9·3%) reported self-harm in the past year. Nurses aged between 25-44 were at especially high risk of self-harm. Female nurses reported self-harm more than male nurses. The most common forms of self-harm were self-cutting, striking oneself and poisoning oneself. Clinical experience, chronic illness, relationship crises with family members, a family history of self-harm, smoking, symptoms of stress and psychiatric disorder were significantly associated with nurses' self-harm. The positive correlation between psychiatric disorder and self-harm was confirmed.

Conclusions.

There is a need for a raft of self-harm prevention strategies, including a continuous monitoring system in the healthcare setting detecting and managing the risks of self-harm in nurses as part of the ordinary provision for their well-being.

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