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Pediatrics. 2010 May;125(5):953-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2135. Epub 2010 Apr 12.

Teaching pediatric residents to assess adolescent suicide risk with a standardized patient module.

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Washington University, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



We hypothesized that a suicide risk assessment (SRA) training module incorporating standardized patients (SPs) would enhance pediatric resident SRA performance.


We conducted an educational survey of pediatric residents regarding SRA (N = 80). In addition, we tested the performance of a SRA training module among pediatric interns who received SRA practice with SPs simulating suicidality scenarios, with (n = 6) or without (n = 6) SRA lecture, or SRA lecture only (n = 12) and control interns (n = 10). We examined postintervention confidence in SRA and self-reported and objectively measured knowledge of suicidal risk factors.


Resident confidence and knowledge regarding SRA were low, compared with assessment of medical illness. Interns in the SP plus lecture group had significantly greater confidence in screening adolescents for suicide risk factors and assessing suicidal adolescents (screening, 4.2 +/- 0.4; assessing, 4.2 +/- 0.4), compared with subjects in either the lecture-only (screening, 2.9 +/- 0.8; P = .005; assessing, 2.9 +/- 1.1; P = .01) or control (screening, 3.1 +/- 0.7; P = .025; assessing, 2.6 +/- 0.8; P = .003) group. In addition, only the SP plus lecture group demonstrated significantly greater objective knowledge of suicide risk factors (92% vs 25% correct; P = .008) than the control group. Neither the lecture-only group nor the SP-only group was significantly better than the control group in terms of knowledge or confidence relevant to SRA.


This SRA training module was significantly more effective than lecture alone in enhancing pediatric intern knowledge and confidence in SRA.

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