The Effectiveness of Suicide Prevention Education Programs for Nurses: A Systematic Review

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Background: Education to improve health professionals' responses to suicide is considered an important suicide prevention strategy. However, the effectiveness of this approach for nurses is unclear. Aim: To systematically review the peer-reviewed literature regarding the effectiveness of suicide prevention education programs for nurses. Method: Nine academic databases (CINAHL, Cochrane Reviews & Trials, Embase, Informit Health Collection, Joanna Briggs Institute, Medline, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Web of Science) were searched in November 2016, utilizing search terms related to suicide, education, and nurses, with no limits placed on publication date or study design. Results: The search yielded 5,456 identified articles, 11 of which met the inclusion criteria. Studies were primarily quantitative (RCTs n = 3; quasi-experimental n = 6; qualitative n = 2), and involved nurses (range = 16–561) working in a diversity of settings, particularly hospitals (n = 9). Studies revealed positive changes in nurses' competence, knowledge, and attitudes associated with training over the short term. Limitations: The heterogeneity of education programs and methodological weaknesses of included studies limit the conclusions drawn. Conclusion: There is a moderate body of evidence to support the effectiveness of suicide prevention education programs for nurses. Future research should examine longer-term changes in clinical practice and strategies for continuing education, with more rigorous study designs.

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