Optimizing the assessment of suicidal behavior: the application of curtailment techniques

De Beurs, D. P., Fokkema, M. and O’Connor, R. C. (2016) Optimizing the assessment of suicidal behavior: the application of curtailment techniques. Journal of Affective Disorders, 196, pp. 218-224. (doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.02.033) (PMID:26938964)

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Abstract

Background: Given their length, commonly used scales to assess suicide risk, such as the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (SSI) are of limited use as screening tools. In the current study we tested whether deterministic and stochastic curtailment can be applied to shorten the 19-item SSI, without compromising its accuracy. Methods: Data from 366 patients, who were seen by a liaison psychiatry service in a general hospital in Scotland after a suicide attempt, were used. Within 24 h of admission, the SSI was administered; 15 months later, it was determined whether a patient was re-admitted to a hospital as the result of another suicide attempt. We fitted a Receiver Operating Characteristic curve to derive the best cut-off value of the SSI for predicting future suicidal behavior. Using this cut-off, both deterministic and stochastic curtailment were simulated on the item score patterns of the SSI. Results: A cut-off value of SSI≥6 provided the best classification accuracy for future suicidal behavior. Using this cut-off, we found that both deterministic and stochastic curtailment reduce the length of the SSI, without reducing the accuracy of the final classification decision. With stochastic curtailment, on average, less than 8 items are needed to assess whether administration of the full-length test will result in an SSI score below or above the cut-off value of 6. Limitations: New studies using other datasets should re-validate the optimal cut-off for risk of repeated suicidal behavior after being treated in a hospital following an attempt. Conclusions: Curtailment can be used to simplify the assessment of suicidal behavior, and should be considered as an alternative to the full scale.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The initial study of ROC was supported by funding from the Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government (CZH/4/449). For the additional curtailment analysis, no additional funding was obtained.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:De Beurs, Mr Derek
Authors: De Beurs, D. P., Fokkema, M., and O’Connor, R. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
Journal Name:Journal of Affective Disorders
Journal Abbr.:J Affect Disord
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0165-0327
Published Online:23 February 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V.
First Published:First published in Journal of Affective Disorders 196:218-224
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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