An evaluation of an assertive community linkage intervention for patients presenting to the Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department with suicidal behaviours
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2019-12-08.
© 2017 Alex Pleban
According to much of suicide prevention literature the strongest risk factor predictive for suicide is previous suicide attempt or deliberate self-harm. While many assessed at Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department are deemed to be in the low to medium risk category upon discharge, longitudinal risk factors remain. In 2009 Mid West Area Mental Health Service (MWAMHS) management identified an opportunity for service development and funding was secured to employ a senior clinician to provide a post ED Assertive Linkage Service (ALS). A primarily phone based community linkage service was considered the most sustainable model. In an effort to evaluate the efficacy of the ALS intervention and ultimately inform the design of the service a program evaluation was undertaken which posed the question; Does an assertive linkage service intervention for clients presenting to the Sunshine Hospital Emergency department with deliberate self- harm improve service access, quality of life and client satisfaction? The aim of the Assertive Linkage Study was to conceptualise a social work intervention that involved assertive follow-up, support and therapeutic linkage for those who presented to the Sunshine Hospital emergency department with deliberate self-harm, suicidal ideation or suicide attempt. Demographic and clinical characteristics of patients in this cohort were identified and the impact of the intervention was measured. Many of the findings were consistent to those of other comparable studies. The sample population risk for repeat suicidal behaviours was significant and the ED representation rates were high. The needs profile of the ALS cohort was generally diverse and sometimes complex demanding a flexible and eclectic approach from the ALS clinician. Social work practice needed to be client-centred and the ALS clinician could not assume that all who presented would be receptive to or perceive the need for formal community-based support. On balance the ALS intervention appeared to have made a positive difference to the clients’ experience after their emergency department presentation. It also had a positive impact on emergency department representation rates, client satisfaction and quality of life outcomes.
Keywordssuicide prevention; social work; assertive outreach; community linkage; emergency department; accident and emergency; self harm; suicide
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- Social Work - Theses