Year: 2018 Source: Psychiatric Services. (2018). 69(6): 703-709. SIEC No: 20180435

The purpose of this study was to examine variability in outcomes (suicide attempt rates) across subgroups of patients who were randomly enrolled in brief cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and treatment as usual.

A secondary analysis was conducted of data collected during a randomized clinical trial of brief CBT for suicide prevention in a sample of 176 U.S. military personnel who reported active suicide ideation in the past week or a suicide attempt in the past month. Latent-class analysis was used to identify empirically distinct and clinically meaningful patient subgroups. Rates of suicide attempts during a two-year follow-up period were compared across classes and treatment groups.

Three latent classes corresponding to low (N=55), moderate (N=40), and high (N=57) suicide risk were identified. The classes significantly differed with respect to psychiatric symptom severity but not demographic or historical variables. Rates of suicide attempts during the two-year follow-up significantly varied across classes in treatment as usual but did not vary across classes in brief CBT (21% versus 10%, respectively, in the low-severity class, 8% versus 13% in the moderate-severity class, and 41% versus 10% in the high-severity class). Differences between treatment conditions in suicide attempt rates were statistically significant for the high-severity class.

Treatment as usual was associated with variable rates of suicidal behavior, depending on suicide risk severity. Brief CBT contributed to consistently low rates of suicidal behavior regardless of patient severity.