Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality in an Inpatient Setting: Results of a Pilot Study

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Abstract

Patients hospitalized for psychiatric reasons exhibit significantly elevated risk of suicide, yet the research literature contains very few outcome studies of interventions designed for suicidal inpatients. This pilot study examined the inpatient feasibility and effectiveness of The Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS), a structured evidence-based method for risk assessment and treatment planning (Jobes, 2006). The study used an open-trial, case-focused design to assess an inpatient adaptation of CAMS, spread over a period averaging 51 days. The intervention was provided via individual therapy to a convenience sample of 20 patients (16 females and four males, average age 36.9) who were hospitalized with recent histories of suicidal ideation and behavior. Results showed statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression, hopelessness, suicide cognitions, and suicidal ideation, as well as improvement on factors considered “drivers” of suicidality. Treatment effect sizes were in the large range (Cohen's d > .80) across several outcome measures, including suicidal ideation. Although these findings must be considered preliminary due to the lack of a randomized control group, they merit attention from clinicians working with patients at risk for suicide. This study also supports the feasibility of implementing a structured, suicide-specific intervention for at-risk patients in inpatient settings.

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