(HealthDay News) – The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force finds that primary care screening tools could probably identify adults at increased risk of suicide, although they have limited efficacy in adolescents. This Recommendation Statement is based on an evidence review published in the April 23 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Elizabeth O’Connor, PhD, from Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, OR, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review involving 56 studies to assess the accuracy of screening instruments and the efficacy and safety of screening for and treatment of suicide risk. The researchers found that there was insufficient evidence to assess the benefits of screening in primary care populations, while very limited evidence identified no serious harms. Based on minimal evidence, in primary care, screening tools could identify some adults at higher risk for suicide, but in studies of older adults the accuracy was lower. Screening instruments performed poorly in adolescents, based on evidence limited to high-risk populations. In high-risk adults, but not adolescents, psychotherapy was found to reduce suicide attempts.

Based on these findings, the Task Force finds that primary care screening tools may be able to identify adults with increased suicide risk in the general population. The draft Recommendation Statement is available for comment from April 23–May 20, 2013.

“Although evidence was limited, primary care-feasible screening tools could probably identify adult patients at increased risk for suicide who may need treatment,” the authors write.

Draft Recommendation Statement
Comment on Recommendations
Background Review