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Principal Investigator
James Prior

1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018

Project No: 349

Funding round: FR 13

Rheumatological and inflammatory conditions as risk factors for self-harm and suicide

Our aim is to determine whether people with rheumatological or inflammatory (RoI) conditions are more likely to intentionally harm (self-harm) or kill themselves (suicide) than other patients. We hope such knowledge will be beneficial to patients and healthcare services by;

  • providing new information to general practitioners to support the prompt identification of at-risk patients
  • reducing the number of patients who cause themselves harm

Research has shown that people who self-harm are more likely to kill themselves in the future. As the number of people who self-harm, and those who kill themselves has been increasing over the last decade in the UK, finding ways to prevent these is a priority for healthcare systems.

One approach to reducing self-harm and suicide is to target high-risk groups, for example patients with RoI conditions. These patients experience many of the same problems as those people who hurt or kill themselves intentionally (for example; depression, chronic pain) and other research has also shown that people with painful or disabling conditions may be more likely to take their own life. However, as there are several different RoI conditions, each of which affects the patient in different ways, we are unsure how each condition will influence the risk of self-harm and suicide. As it remains unclear whether RoI patients are more likely to harm or kill themselves than other patients, then further examination into any relationship between RoI conditions and subsequent self-harm or suicide is warranted.

We will examine this question in several common rheumatological and inflammatory conditions by using data from a large database which routinely collects anonymous patient data from participating UK general practices. When we have completed our analyses, we will meet with a group of patients to discuss our findings and the best ways to inform patients and clinicians of any recommendations.

Amount awarded: £31,900