Suicide Risk Management

Development and Analysis of a Telephone-Based Approach to Patient Safety

Published in: TBM, Translational Behavioral Medicine, v. 1, no. 3, Sep. 2011, p. 372-383

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2010

by Duncan G. Campbell, Laura M Bonner, Cory Bolkan, Edmund Chaney, Bradford Felker, Scott E. Sherman, Lisa V. Rubenstein

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Research-based queries about patients' experiences often uncover suicidal thoughts. Human subjects review requires suicide risk management (SRM) protocols to protect patients, yet minimal information exists to guide researchers' protocol development and implementation efforts. The purpose of this study was to examine the development and implementation of an SRM protocol employed during telephone-based screening and data collection interviews of depressed primary care patients. We describe an SRM protocol development process and employ qualitative analysis of de-identified documentation to characterize protocol-driven interactions between research clinicians and patients. Protocol development required advance planning, training, and team building. Three percent of screened patients evidenced suicidal ideation; 12% of these met protocol standards for study clinician assessment/intervention. Risk reduction activities required teamwork and extensive collaboration. Research-based SRM protocols can facilitate patient safety by (1) identifying and verifying local clinical site approaches and resources and (2) integrating these features into prevention protocols and training for research teams.

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