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Teaching physicians to assess suicidal youth presenting to the emergency department

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OBJECTIVES:

The objective of this study was to determine whether a 5-module self-paced computerized educational program improves residents' skills in assessing and managing youth presenting to the emergency department in acute psychiatric distress.

METHODS:

The evaluation used a quasi-experimental posttest-only design assessing both knowledge of the educational context of the program and self-rated pretest knowledge of program content with 32 residents recruited from 1 medical center in Cleveland, Ohio.

RESULTS:

About half of the respondents were female (48%); almost two thirds were white (65%), and few were trained in psychiatric assessment of children/adolescents. On average, residents had significantly higher scores on the posttest compared with the self-rated pretest (6.4 ± 1.1 vs 3.8 ± 2.3; P < 0.001), an effect size of 1.32. Residents responded positively to the modules and rated them highly on educational content (4.2 ± 0.5 on a 5-point scale) and satisfaction with clinical applicability (8.2 ± 1.2 on a 10-point scale) and found the program easy to navigate (8.5 ± 1.9 on a 10-point scale).

CONCLUSIONS:

A brief, self-administered, Web-based training program shows promise for improving residents' knowledge about suicidal behaviors in youth.

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