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Teens Open to Pediatricians’ Suicide Prevention Efforts

Last Updated: January 12, 2010.

Adolescents and their parents often underestimate the risk of suicide and would welcome more suicide prevention efforts by pediatricians, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in Pediatrics, while a study in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine found that physicians need to be clear, sensitive and supportive when asking depressed patients about their risk of suicide.

TUESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents and their parents often underestimate the risk of suicide and would welcome more suicide prevention efforts by pediatricians, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in Pediatrics, while a study in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine found that physicians need to be clear, sensitive and supportive when asking depressed patients about their risk of suicide.

Kimberley A. Schwartz, M.D., of UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., and colleagues conducted 13 focus groups of 66 13- to 18-year-olds and 30 parents, and write that most participants underestimated the problem of adolescent suicide in their own communities. Both adolescents themselves and their parents were found amenable to suicide prevention education from pediatricians.

Steven D. Vannoy, Ph.D., of the University of California in Davis, and colleagues analyzed transcripts from 298 visits by standardized patients to 152 physicians, and identified 91 interactions in which the physicians asked about suicidality. They found that most suicide enquiries used clear and sensitive language, but some were phrased in ways which may deter patients from discussing suicidal thoughts.

"Some aspects of a physician's discourse may inhibit patient disclosure. A small portion of inquiries were not prefaced by in-context statements. Failing to create a context before the inquiry may catch patients off guard and inhibit subsequent disclosure," Vannoy and colleagues write.

Abstract - Schwartz
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Abstract - Vannoy
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