Do GP's Want or Need Formal Support Following a Patient Suicide? A Mixed Methods Study

Saini, Pooja, Chantler, Khatidja orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9129-2560, While, David and Kapur, Navneet (2016) Do GP's Want or Need Formal Support Following a Patient Suicide? A Mixed Methods Study. Family Practice, 33 (4). pp. 414-420.

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Patient suicide can be a devastating event for some general practitioners (GPs). Few guidelines exist to aid or support GPs in the aftermath of patient suicide.

To explore GPs views on how they are affected by a patient suicide and the formal support available to them following a patient suicide.

Questionnaires and Semi-structured interviews.

General practices in the northwest of England.

198 semi-structured interviews were conducted as part of a retrospective study. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using descriptive statistics and a framework thematic approach.

GPs were aged between 31 to 67 years, 144 (73%) were male, and the number of years in practice varied between 8 and 40 years (median = 24 years). GPs were based at 133 (67%) urban and 65 (33%) rural practices, 30 (15%) were single-handed GP practices and 168 (85%) practices had two or more GPs. 131 (66%) GPs reported being affected by patient suicide through feelings of grief, guilt and self-scrutiny. A greater number of years in practice may have been protective against these effects. 54 (27%) GPs reported having mostly ‘informal’ support from peers or colleagues and support was less available to younger and single handed GPs.

Our findings suggest that the majority of GPs are affected by patient suicide and most seek informal support from their peers and colleagues. Although many indicated that informal support systems were adequate and provided a protective environment, procedures should be developed to ensure the availability of guidelines for those who may require formal support.

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