Background: Research has found that patients with suicidal ideation (SI) are at high risk for unfavorable outcomes. The present work aimed to expand the knowledge about their characteristics and treatment success.
Methods: Data were drawn from a routine assessment of N = 460 inpatients. We used patients’ self-report data as well as therapists’ reports covering baseline characteristics, depression and anxiety symptoms (at the start and end of therapy), psychosocial stress factors, helping alliance, treatment motivation, and treatment-related control expectancies. In addition to group comparisons, we conducted tests of associations with treatment outcome.
Results: SI was reported by 232 patients (50.4% of the sample). It co-occurred with higher symptom burden, more psychosocial stress factors, and negation of help. Patients reporting SI were more likely to be dissatisfied with the treatment outcome (although their therapists were not). SI was related to higher levels of anxiety symptoms after treatment. In regression models of depression and anxiety symptoms, interactions of SI with the external control expectancy powerful others were observed, suggesting that in patients with frequent SI, this control expectancy hindered recovery.
Discussion/conclusion: Patients reporting SI are a vulnerable group. Therapists could support them by addressing (potentially conflicting) motivations and control expectancies.