Barriers and facilitators of suicide risk assessment in emergency departments: A qualitative study of provider perspectives

Megan L. Petrik, Peter M. Gutierrez, Jon S. Berlin, Stephen M. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand emergency department (ED) providers' perspectives regarding the barriers and facilitators of suicide risk assessment and to use these perspectives to inform recommendations for best practices in ED suicide risk assessment. Methods: Ninety-two ED providers from two hospital systems in a Midwestern state responded to open-ended questions via an online survey that assessed their perspectives on the barriers and facilitators to assess suicide risk as well as their preferred assessment methods. Responses were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis approach. Results: Qualitative analysis yielded six themes that impact suicide risk assessment. Time, privacy, collaboration and consultation with other professionals and integration of a standard screening protocol in routine care exemplified environmental and systemic themes. Patient engagement/participation in assessment and providers' approach to communicating with patients and other providers also impacted the effectiveness of suicide risk assessment efforts. Conclusion: The findings inform feasible suicide risk assessment practices in EDs. Appropriately utilizing a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to assess suicide-related concerns appears to be a promising approach to ameliorate the burden placed on ED providers and facilitate optimal patient care. Recommendations for clinical care, education, quality improvement and research are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7053
Pages (from-to)581-586
Number of pages6
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015.


  • Emergency department
  • Health care providers
  • Qualitative methods
  • Suicide
  • Suicide risk assessment


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