SUICIDE RISK Assessment: 6 Steps to a Better Instrument

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Recent research indicates that commonly used instruments to assess suicidal ideation identify patients at chronic risk for suicide but do not identify those who are at acute (imminent) risk for suicide while hospitalized. Items to measure anxiety and agitation, identified as more appropriate risk factors, should be incorporated into suicide risk assessments. The purpose of this article was to develop an evidence-based imminent suicide risk instrument for an inpatient psychiatric unit. The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Quality Care guided development. Two validated instruments, the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (to measure anxiety) and the Behavioral Activity Rating Scale (to measure agitation) were applied to 75 patients to help create an evidence-based instrument, which should more accurately identify hospitalized patients at risk for imminent suicide.

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