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Clin Nurs Res. 2009 Aug;18(3):253-71. doi: 10.1177/1054773809335296. Epub 2009 May 1.

Suicide risk screening in an emergency department: engaging staff nurses in continued testing of a brief instrument.

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  • 1Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL 61702, USA.


A study was conducted to detect suicide risk in adolescents and adults seeking treatment in an emergency department (ED) in the Midwest as well as to continue testing reliability and validity of the 4-item Risk of Suicide Questionnaire (RSQ) developed by Horowitz et al. This study included ED staff nurses in a Level II Trauma Center who administered the RSQ to adolescent, adult, and geriatric patients, regardless of chief complaint or psychiatric history. Participants consisted of a convenience sample of 202 patients composed of 59 adolescents and 143 adults, including 36 geriatric patients. Psychometric analysis demonstrated a lower-than-expected degree of reliability and an adequate level of criterion-related validity for the RSQ in this sample. Interrater reliability was established. Approximately 42% of all patients who participated screened positive for suicide risk using the RSQ. Results support screening by nurses as part of the admission assessment to determine suicide risk in patients who present to the ED.

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