To determine the effects of a brief psychological intervention (brief psychodynamic interpersonal therapy) for patients after deliberate self poisoning compared with usual treatment. To compare the impact of the active intervention and usual treatment on patients' satisfaction with care.
Randomised controlled trial.
119 adults who had deliberately poisoned themselves and presented to the emergency department of a teaching hospital.
Community based study.
Four sessions of therapy delivered in the patient's home. Control patients received “treatment as usual,” which in most cases consisted of referral back to their general practitioner.
Severity of suicidal ideation six months after treatment as assessed by the Beck scale for suicidal ideation. Secondary outcome measures at six month follow up included depressive symptoms as measured by the Beck depression inventory, patient satisfaction with treatment, and self reported subsequent attempts at self harm.
Participants randomised to the intervention had a significantly greater reduction in suicidal ideation at six month follow up compared with those in the control group (reduction in the mean (SD) Beck scale 8.0 v 1.5). They were more satisfied with their treatment and were less likely to report repeated attempts to harm themselves at follow up (proportion repeating 9% v 28% in control group; difference 19%, 95% confidence interval 9% to 30 %, P=0.009).
Brief psychodynamic interpersonal therapy may be a valuable treatment after people have deliberately tried to poison themselves.
What is already known on this topic
Deliberate self poisoning is one of the commonest reasons for admission to hospital in the United Kingdom and up to 15% of patients who poison themselves eventually kill themselves
There are no interventions of proved efficacy for these patients
Most episodes of self poisoning are precipitated by some form of interpersonal problem
What this study adds
Compared with usual treatment four sessions of psychodynamic interpersonal therapy reduced suicidal ideation and self reported attempts at self harm
The intervention also improved patients' satisfaction with care