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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2019 Aug 8. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12581. [Epub ahead of print]

Motivational Interviewing to Address Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Veterans.

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VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, Canandaigua Medical Center, Canandaigua, NY, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA.
Center for Integrated Healthcare, Department of Veterans Affairs, Syracuse Medical Center, Syracuse, NY, USA.
Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA.



Although the months following discharge from psychiatric hospitalization are a period of acute risk for veterans, there is a dearth of empirically supported treatments tailored to veterans in acute psychiatric hospitalization.


We conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing to Address Suicidal Ideation (MI-SI) that explored and resolved ambivalence, and a revised MI-SI (MI-SI-R) that resolved ambivalence, on suicidal ideation (SI) in hospitalized veterans who scored > 2 on the Scale for Suicidal Ideation. Participants were randomized to receive MI-SI plus treatment as usual (TAU), MI-SI-R+TAU, or TAU alone. MI-SI+TAU and MI-SI-R+TAU included two in-hospital therapy sessions and one telephone booster session. Participants completed follow-up assessments over 6 months.


Participants in all groups experienced reductions in the presence and severity of SI, but there were no significant differences among the groups. For the presence of SI, results were in the hypothesized direction for both MI-SI+TAU conditions.


Results are nondefinitive, but the effect size of both versions of MI-SI+TAU on the presence of SI was consistent with prior MI findings. Exploratory analyses suggest MI-SI-R may be preferable to MI-SI. More intensive MI-SI-R with a greater number of follow-ups may increase its effectiveness.


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