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Suicide ideation, plans, and attempts among general practice patients with chronic health conditions in Puerto Rico

Authors Vera, Reyes-Rabanillo, Huertas S, Juarbe, Perez-Pedrogo C, Huertas A, Pena M

Published 11 March 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 197—205


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Mildred Vera2,4, María L Reyes-Rabanillo1, Sarah Huertas3, Deborah Juarbe4, Coralee Pérez-Pedrogo4, Aracelis Huertas5, Marisol Peña6
1Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System, San Juan, Puerto Rico; 2Department of Health Services Administration, School of Public Health; 3Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine; 4Center for Evaluation and Sociomedical Research, School of Public Health; 5School of Health Professions; 6Center for Preparedness in Public Health, School of Public Health, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Background: Little is known about suicidal ideation among general practice patients in Puerto Rico. In this study we examined the rates, severity, and correlates of suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts among general practice patients with chronic illnesses. This is important in targeting appropriate interventions and management approaches to minimize and prevent suicide.
Methods: We screened patients with chronic physical conditions at general practices. Suicidal ideation was assessed with the suicidality module of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Major depression was assessed with the Patient Health Questionnaire depression module. The relationship between sociodemographic factors, depression and suicidal ideation was examined with multiple logistic regression analysis. Among the subgroup that acknowledged suicidal ideation, we used multinomial logistic regression analysis to estimate simultaneously the multivariate associations of depression and sociodemographic factors with suicidality risk levels.
Results: Of the 2068 patients screened, 15.4% acknowledged recent suicidal ideation. Among this group, 8.6% reported passive ideation, 3.7% active ideation without a plan, and 3.1% active ideation with a plan or attempt. According to multivariate logistic regression, suicidal ideation was higher among patients with moderately severe depression and severe depression than for those with milder symptoms. Patients aged 64 years or younger were over one and a half times more likely to acknowledge suicidal ideation than those aged 65 years and older. Compared with patients having a college degree, those with lower education had a twofold higher risk of suicidal ideation. Multinomial logistic regression analysis indicated that severe depression was associated with a higher likelihood of having a suicide plan or attempt.
Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that public health strategies focusing on the systematic identification of patients with increased depression severity and the implementation of evidence-based depression treatments are relevant for minimizing and preventing suicidal behavior among general practice patients with chronic health conditions.

Keywords: suicidal ideation, chronic illnesses, depression, Puerto Rican

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