This blog was created to keep healthcare professionals, researchers, methodologists, and patients up to date with the latest primary care research. For more information about the Research Institute, visit our website;

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Self-harm in Primary Care

By Carolyn Chew-Graham
Professor of General Practice Research, IPCHS, Keele University

On 15th July, Carol Rhodes and I attended a dissemination event in Manchester with Judith, Carol and Theresa who have worked with researchers at Keele and Manchester on an NIHR Public Health funded study. Judith is a manager at ECHO, a third sector service which provides support for people who self-harm.

Carol and Theresa, who attend ECHO for support, have contributed to a self harm study from its inception to dissemination. This is the first research of its kind conducted in primary care, and our results will have implications for the management of people who self-harm and the role played by GPs. 
The study aims to:
  • Describe the attendance patterns for primary care patients who have self-harmed.
  • Estimate the proportion of self-harming patients who receive mental illness diagnoses, including clinical depression. 
  • Assess self-harm repetition risk.
  • Examine risk of premature mortality, focusing specifically on suicide, but also considering a broad range of related specific causes that we anticipate will have markedly elevated risk.       

After presentation of the results and discussion of the implications for primary care, I described the key role that Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) has played in the study, from formulating the research questions, to discussion of initial analysis and findings, to planning the dissemination event, and contributing to the broader dissemination plan. Attendees at the meeting congratulated the PPIE team for the extent of their input in the project.

Carol R, Judith, Theresa and Carol posed pertinent and challenging questions to the research team, and had great ideas about how to publicize our work in innovative ways – we want to do more than publish in academic journals. We also discussed a number of possible ideas for future research, and will be holding a PPIE meeting at Keele in the autumn to discuss how to take these forwards.

Many thanks to Carol Rhodes and Adele Higginbottom (our Public and Patient Involvement co-ordinators), who accompanied our PPIE group to previous meetings, for discovering ECHO and embracing this work despite its sensitivities and challenges.