Accuracy of Clinician Predictions of Future Self-Harm: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Predictive Studies

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Assessment of a patient after hospital-treated self-harm or psychiatric hospitalization often includes a risk assessment, resulting in a classification of high risk versus low risk for a future episode of self-harm. Through systematic review and a series of meta-analyses looking at unassisted clinician risk classification (eight studies; N = 22,499), we found pooled estimates for sensitivity 0.31 (95% CI: 0.18–0.50), specificity 0.85 (0.75–0.92), positive predictive value 0.22 (0.21–0.23), and negative predictive value 0.89 (0.86–0.92). Clinician classification was too inaccurate to be clinically useful. After-care should therefore be allocated on the basis of a needs rather than risk assessment.

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