Assessing variability and implementation fidelity of suicide prevention safety planning in a regional VA healthcare system.
Gamarra, J.~~Luciano, M.~~et al.
Background: In 2008, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) implemented the use of safety planning for suicide prevention. A safety plan is a list of strategies, developed collaboratively with a provider, for a patient to use when suicide risk is elevated. Despite the use of safety plans in VHA, little is known about implementation fidelity, the extent to which safety plans are delivered as intended, or patient-level outcomes of safety planning. Aims: This study aimed to explore the implementation fidelity of safety planning in a regional VHA hospital and examine the associations between safety plan quality and completeness with patient outcomes. Method: A comprehensive chart review was conducted for patients who were flagged as high risk for suicide (N = 200). Completeness and quality were coded, as well as information about patient and provider interactions regarding safety plan use. Results: Safety plans were mostly complete and of moderate quality, although variability existed, particularly in quality. Limited evidence of follow-up regarding safety planning was found in the medical charts. Higher quality was associated with fewer subsequent psychiatric hospitalizations. Conclusion: Variability in implementation fidelity and infrequent follow-up suggest a need for additional training and support regarding the use of safety plans for suicide prevention.
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