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Medical profession needs special training to handle self-harm, says international review
Date:9/27/2010

's property and that leaving them in nightwear to stop them self-harming contravened their rights. The people who self-harmed also had more challenging needs than medical patients on wards and were subject to different rules.

"Negative attitudes were also linked to the health professionals' perceptions of the client's ability to control their self harm. Staff were more negative if they felt that the factors leading to the self-harm were within the client's control.

"Service users who presented frequently at hospitals were also seen to challenge healthcare staff, affecting their professional ability and confidence to cope with such situations.

"On the plus side, attitudes were mainly positive when staff were knowledgeable about self harm and training and experience clearly did make a difference."

Specific findings from the 19 papers included:

Lack of training

  • Only nine per cent of the 53 nurses and 17 doctors who took part in a UK survey had received self-harm training.
  • A survey of 43 Australian emergency department nurses found that only 21 per cent had received self-harm education and 88 per cent had heard other staff make negative statements about patients who had self-harmed.
  • A UK study of 89 nurses and healthcare professionals working in an emergency department showed that staff felt self-harm training was inadequate and that beliefs about the causes of self-harm affected care provision.

Benefits of training

  • An Australian study reported that 29 emergency department nurses who had undergone special self-harm training listed new communication skills, positive effects and lessons for the future among the benefits.
  • Fifty-two nurses and 15 junior medics from a UK emergency department gained a greater understanding of self-harm from an education programme and the initiative also resulted in better clinical recording on the patients' notes.
  • Six
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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