A new study has been published in BJGP on young people’s experiences of general practice for self-harm. Self-harm in young people is a national priority and young people consult GPs the most often for self-harm in the NHS.
Dr Faraz Mughal, previous NIHR SPCR GP Career Progression Fellow, and current NIHR Doctoral Fellow from Keele University’s School of Medicine, led a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with young people aged 19-25 around England, to explore their help-seeking behaviours, experiences of GP care, and access to general practice care for self-harm. A patient and public involvement advisory group informed all stages of the study.
Young people described mixed experiences of consulting GPs for self-harm which can influence future help-seeking from general practice. Preconceptions and a lack of knowledge about self-harm and accessing general practice were identified barriers to help-seeking. A relationship with one GP who listens, understands, and offers proactive follow-up was a key facilitator for young people accessing general practice for self-harm.
Dr Faraz Mughal, GP and NIHR Doctoral Fellow:
"This study is important in contributing to the small but growing evidence base on young people’s experiences of care for self-harm in primary care. Self-harm is a major risk factor for suicide and reducing self-harm in young people is a national priority. There is a crucial opportunity for early intervention in primary care, but supporting young people who have harmed themselves in general practice requires continuity of GP care, and greater awareness of how young people can access appointments."
Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, GP Principal and Professor of General Practice Research:
“This is a study which highlights the key role that general practice has in the support and management of young people with self-harm behaviour. The work forms an important foundation for Dr Mughal’s doctoral studies.”
This research was funded by the Scientific Foundation Board of the Royal College of General Practitioners (Grant reference SFB 2018-29)
Read more about Dr Mughal’s NIHR Doctoral Fellowship to develop and test a GP delivered intervention to reduce self-harm in young people – The COPING study: a CO-produced Psychosocial INtervention delivered by GPs for young people who self harm.