Year: 2020 Source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (2015). (12), CD012013. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012013. SIEC No: 20200254

Self-harm (SH; intentional self-poisoning or self-injury) is common in children and adolescents, often repeated, and strongly associated with suicide. This is an update of a broader Cochrane review on psychosocial and pharmacological treatments for deliberate SH first published in 1998 and previously updated in 1999. We have now divided the review into three separate reviews; this review is focused on psychosocial and pharmacological interventions for SH in children and adolescents.

To identify all randomised controlled trials of psychosocial interventions, pharmacological agents, or natural products for SH in children and adolescents, and to conduct meta-analyses (where possible) to compare the effects of specific treatments with comparison types of treatment (e.g., treatment as usual (TAU), placebo, or alternative pharmacological treatment) for children and adolescents who SH.

There are relatively few trials of interventions for children and adolescents who have engaged in SH, and only single trials contributed to all but two comparisons in this review. The quality of evidence according to GRADE criteria was mostly very low. There is little support for the effectiveness of group-based psychotherapy for adolescents with multiple episodes of SH based on the results of three trials, the evidence from which was of very low quality according to GRADE criteria. Results for therapeutic assessment, mentalisation, and dialectical behaviour therapy indicated that these approaches warrant further evaluation. Despite the scale of the problem of SH in children and adolescents there is a paucity of evidence of effective interventions. Further large-scale trials, with a range of outcome measures including adverse events, and investigation of therapeutic mechanisms underpinning these interventions, are required. It is increasingly apparent that development of new interventions should be done in collaboration with patients to ensure that these are likely to meet their needs. Use of an agreed set of outcome measures would assist evaluation and both comparison and meta-analysis of trials.