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Hospitalizing the suicidal adolescent: an empirical investigation of decision-making criteria.

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  • 1Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, NY, USA.



The primary purpose of this research is to investigate the criteria used by child and adolescent clinicians in determining the appropriateness of hospitalization for suicidal adolescents.


A questionnaire containing 64 vignettes describing adolescent suicide attempters was completed by a sample of 36 child and adolescent clinicians. Six variables known to relate to lethality of attempt were systematically varied within the vignettes: gender, depression, conduct disorder/substance abuse, previous attempts, suicidal relative, and family supports. Respondents were asked to judge the appropriateness of hospitalization for each vignette.


Hospitalization preference was found to be inversely related to professional experience and was significantly predicted by all risk factors except gender. Configural cue utilization added substantially to the efficacy of a linear model in predicting preference to hospitalize.


Experienced clinicians use known risk factors for adolescent suicide in making recommendations to hospitalize, but results also suggest ongoing needs for education and training in adolescent suicidality.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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