Postcard intervention for repeat self-harm: randomised controlled trial

Beautrais, Annette L.; Gibb, Sheree J.; Faulkner, Alan; Fergusson, David M.; Mulder, Roger T.
July 2010
British Journal of Psychiatry;Jul2010, Vol. 197 Issue 1, p55
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: Self-harm and suicidal behaviour are common reasons for emergency department presentation. Those who present with self-harm have an elevated risk of further suicidal behaviour and death.Aims: To examine whether a postcard intervention reduces self-harm re-presentations in individuals presenting to the emergency department.Method: Randomised controlled trial conducted in Christchurch, New Zealand. The intervention consisted of six postcards mailed during the 12 months following an index emergency department attendance for self-harm. Outcome measures were the proportion of participants re-presenting with self-harm and the number of re-presentations for self-harm in the 12 months following the initial presentation.Results: After adjustment for prior self-harm, there were no significant differences between the control and intervention groups in the proportion of participants re-presenting with self-harm or in the total number of re-presentations for self-harm.Conclusions: The postcard intervention did not reduce further self-harm. Together with previous results this finding suggests that the postcard intervention may be effective only for selected subgroups.


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