Randomized trial of a home-based family intervention for children who have deliberately poisoned themselves

Richard Harrington, Michael Kerfoot, Elizabeth Dyer, Faye McNiven, Julia Gill, Valerie Harrington, Adrine Woodham, Sarah Byford

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    Objective: To establish whether an intervention given by child psychiatric social workers to the families of children and adolescents who had attempted suicide by taking an overdose reduced the patients' suicidal feelings and improved family functioning. Method: One hundred sixty-two patients, aged 16 or younger, who had deliberately poisoned themselves were randomly allocated to routine care (n = 77) or routine care plus the intervention (n = 85). The intervention consisted of an assessment session and four home visits by the social workers to conduct family problem-solving sessions. The control group received no visits. Both groups were assessed at the time of recruitment and 2 and 6 months later. The primary outcome measures were the Suicidal ideation Questionnaire, the Hopelessness Scale, and the Family Assessment Device. Results: There were no significant differences in the primary outcomes between the intervention and control groups at either of the outcome assessments. Parents in the intervention group were more satisfied with treatment (mean difference 1.4 [95% confidence interval 0.8 to 2.1]). A subgroup without major depression had much less suicidal ideation at both outcome assessments (analysis of covariance p <.01) compared with controls. Conclusions: The home-based family intervention resulted in reduced suicidal ideation only for patients without major depression.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)512-518
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 1998


    • Adolescent
    • Attempted suicide
    • Child
    • Randomized treatment trial
    • Self-poisoning


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