Control strategies and suicidal ideation in older primary care patients with functional limitations
Fiske, A., Bamonti, P.M., Nadorff, M.R., Petts, R.A., & Sperry, J.A.
Failure to adapt to limitations in control may place older adults at risk for suicidal behavior. The present study examined the relation between control strategies, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation in older adults with health-related limitations.
Cross-sectional study of 50 older adult (aged 65–94) primary care patients with health-related limitations.
Compensatory primary control strategies characterized by seeking help from others were associated with lower levels of suicidal ideation, independent of depressive symptoms. Selective primary control strategies (e.g., persistence) were also associated with reduced suicidal ideation independent of depressive symptoms, but only when a low level of compensatory primary control strategies was endorsed. Selective secondary control strategies were associated with higher suicidal ideation, whereas compensatory secondary control strategies (e.g., goal disengagement) were unrelated in this sample after controlling for covariates.
Findings demonstrate that primary care patients with functional limitations who are not striving to meet their goals, either through persistence or by seeking help from others, are at elevated risk of suicidal thinking.