An evaluation of the quality of self-harm incident reporting across the Australian asylum seeker population according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
AuthorHedrick, K; Armstrong, G; Coffey, G; Borschmann, R
Source TitleBMC Psychiatry
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsHedrick, K., Armstrong, G., Coffey, G. & Borschmann, R. (2020). An evaluation of the quality of self-harm incident reporting across the Australian asylum seeker population according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.. BMC Psychiatry, 20 (1), pp.301-. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02709-7.
Access StatusAccess this item via the Open Access location
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7296646
BACKGROUND: Asylum seekers are at elevated risk of self-harm, and the personal and public health costs of self-harm are high; yet the monitoring and reporting of self-harm has been limited and lacking in transparency. This study aims to evaluate the quality of self-harm incident reporting across the Australian asylum seeker population, including by processing arrangements (i.e. community-based, community detention, onshore detention, Nauru, and Manus Island). METHODS: All self-harm incidents reported across the entire Australian asylum seeker population between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 were obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. We assessed the quality of self-harm incident reporting according to the World Health Organization (WHO)'s self-harm reporting guidelines. RESULTS: A total of 949 self-harm incident reports were assessed. Date, location (processing arrangement), and time of self-harm were routinely reported. Gender was recorded in less than two thirds (62.1%) of all incidents. Method(s) used to self-harm was reported in 81.5% of all incidents, though IDC-10 codes were not reported in any episodes. Psychological or psychiatric assessments were recorded after 4.0% of all incidents, most frequently on Manus Island (10.9%), and in Nauru (10.0%), and least frequently in community-based arrangements (1.7%) and in onshore detention (1.4%), and not at all in community detention. Ambulances were reported as attending 2.8% of all episodes. Hospital attendances were reported following 6.0% of all self-harm incidents, with attendances most commonly reported in incidents occurring in community detention (30.3%), and in community-based arrangements (19.4%). Medevac (air ambulances) were recorded as being utilised in 0.4% of all incidents (2.1% of episodes on Nauru, 1.8% on Manus Island). CONCLUSIONS: The findings of our study indicate that the accessibility and quality of self-harm data is substandard and inconsistent with WHO self-harm reporting guidelines. Such variable reporting makes the identification of self-harm trends, the implementation of prevention strategies - including those at a policy level - and the clinical management of self-harm, extremely challenging. Improved self-harm reporting and monitoring is urgently needed for mitigating and responding to self-harm risk among asylum seekers.
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