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Primary Care and Mental Health Staff Perspectives on Universal Suicide Risk Screening and Care Coordination.

Dobscha SK, Newell SB, Elliott VJ, Rynerson AL, Rabin S, Bahraini N, Post EP, Denneson LM. Primary Care and Mental Health Staff Perspectives on Universal Suicide Risk Screening and Care Coordination. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2023 Mar 1; 74(3):305-311.

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Little is known about staff or patient perspectives on suicide risk screening programs. The objectives of this study were to characterize Veterans Health Administration (VHA) primary care and mental health staff perspectives regarding the VHA Suicide Risk Identification Strategy screening and assessment program and to describe coordination of suicide prevention-related care following positive screening results. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 40 primary care and mental health staff at 12 VHA facilities. An inductive-deductive hybrid approach was used to conduct a thematic analysis. Several key themes were identified. Primary care and mental health staff participants accepted having a structured process for screening for suicidal ideation and conducting risk assessments, but both groups noted limitations and challenges with initial assessment and care coordination following screening. Mental health staff reported more concerns than primary care staff about negative impacts of the screening and assessment process on treatment. Both groups felt that better training was needed for primary care staff to effectively discuss and evaluate suicide risk. The results suggested that additional modifications of the screening and assessment process are needed for patients already known to have elevated risk of suicide or chronic suicidal ideation.

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