Year: 2021 Source: Psychiatric Services in Advance. (2021). Published online 18 March 2021. doi: 10.1176/ SIEC No: 20210405

This study tested the hypothesis that fidelity of clinics to Zero Suicide (ZS) organizational practices is inversely related to suicidal behaviors of patients under clinical care.

Using cross-sectional analyses, the authors examined the fidelity of 110 outpatient mental health clinics to ZS organizational best practices and suicidal behaviors of clinic patients in the year before a large-scale Zero Suicide implementation. Fidelity to ZS organizational best practices was assessed over a 1-year period with an adapted version of the ZS Organizational Self-Study instrument (17 items self-rated on a Likert scale of 1–5). Suicidal behaviors of patients were identified by extracting information on suicide attempts and deaths from a mandated statewide incident-reporting system database. Clinics were dichotomized into any or no suicide incidents during the year of observation. Logistic regression analyses were used to adjust for clinic census and population type (majority child or adult).

The clinics (N=110) served 30,257 patients per week. Clinics’ total average fidelity score was 3.1±0.6 (range=1.41–4.12). For each point increase in fidelity, clinics had a significantly reduced likelihood of having a suicide incident (adjusted odds ratio=0.31, 95% confidence interval=0.14–0.69). Exploratory analysis identified significant differences for seven of 17 ZS organizational practices, with the largest effect sizes for suicide-specific quality improvement policies and activities (η2=0.097) and lethal means reduction (η2=0.073).

These findings support an association between clinics’ use of ZS organizational best practices and lower suicidal behaviors of patients under their care. Findings also support the validity of the ZS Organizational Self-Study instrument.