Shifting beliefs about suicide: Pre-post evaluation of the effectiveness of a program for workers in the construction industry
King, T.L., Gullestrup, J., Batterham, P.J., Kelly, B., Lockwood, C.Lingard, H., ... Milner, A.
Suicide is a significant health problem that is known to disproportionately affect those employed in manual occupations, including construction workers and tradespeople. Universal General Awareness Training (GAT) was part of a multi-component suicide prevention program in the Australian construction industry. The program’s aims were to increase awareness of mental health and suicide, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking and help-offering behaviours. This paper sought to examine the effectiveness of the GAT program in shifting suicide beliefs. Pre- and post-training survey data of 20,125 respondents was obtained from a database of GAT evaluation results between 2016 and 2018. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were fitted to examine belief changes, and predictive margins and their SEs were computed. Mean differences in belief change were obtained for the overall sample, and by occupation. Modest but significant favourable shifts in three of the four beliefs assessed were observed following GAT. Managers and professionals showed greater propensity to shift beliefs, and Labourers and Machinery Operators and Drivers showed least. Results suggest that GAT can successfully shift some beliefs regarding suicide and mental health at least in the short term, but highlight the need to tailor communication to vulnerable occupational groups.