Postcard intervention for repeat self-harm: Randomised controlled trial

  • Beautrais A
  • Gibb S
  • Faulkner A
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Self-harm and suicidal behaviour are common reasons for emergency department presentation. Those who present with self-harm have an elevated risk of further suicidal behaviour and death. AIMS: To examine whether a postcard intervention reduces self-harm re-presentations in individuals presenting to the emergency department. METHOD: Randomised controlled trial conducted in Christchurch, New Zealand. The intervention consisted of six postcards mailed during the 12 months following an index emergency department attendance for self-harm. Outcome measures were the proportion of participants re-presenting with self-harm and the number of re-presentations for self-harm in the 12 months following the initial presentation. RESULTS: After adjustment for prior self-harm, there were no significant differences between the control and intervention groups in the proportion of participants re-presenting with self-harm or in the total number of re-presentations for self-harm. CONCLUSIONS: The postcard intervention did not reduce further self-harm. Together with previous results this finding suggests that the postcard intervention may be effective only for selected subgroups.

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