Dr. Nancy Reid
Importance: It has been estimated that at least 300 to 400 physicians die every year from suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, physicians have some of the highest rates of burnout, depression and suicide compared to the general population.1 Physicians, medical students, and residents experience high levels of emotional distress and are less likely to seek treatment. Prevention strategies specific to physicians, residents, and medical students have been proposed with some implementation.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of suicide prevention strategies in the medical community. To provide information for schools, organizations and institutions on suicide prevention.
Evidence review: A literature search was done using PsychInfo, Cochrane library, PubMed, and Embase including dates from 1800-2019. Publications included were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews with or without meta-analysis, and observational studies. The strength of recommendations was graded according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence- Based Medicine.
Findings: One RCT, three observational studies, and two systematic reviews with meta-analysis were found. Interventions such as screening for suicide utilizing anonymous evidence-based screening tool developed by American Suicide Foundation showed evidence suggesting an increase in help seeking behavior. Alternative treatments such as web-based cognitive behavioral therapy was shown to decrease suicidal ideation in one small RCT. Multi-faceted programs including screening, education, and therapy showed promise.
Conclusions: There are few studies on the efficacy of the prevention strategies of suicide in physicians. Future studies should focus on the efficacy of individual prevention strategies as well as the impact of organizational initiatives such as multi-faceted programs.
Hanzlik S. Can Medical Provider Suicide be Prevented with Mental Health Education, Screening, and Interventions?. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2019; 1(4).
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