A Randomized Controlled Trial of Suicide Prevention Training for Primary Care Providers: A Study Protocol

Lead author: Wendi F. Cross
Submitted by: Todd Lash, The Ohio State University

Background: Suicide is a national public health crisis and a critical patient safety issue. It is the 10th leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults (15–34 years old). Research shows 80% of youth who died by suicide saw their primary care provider within the year of their death. It is imperative that primary care providers develop the knowledge and skills to talk with patients about distress and suicidal thoughts, and to assess and respond in the context of the ongoing patient - primary care provider relationship.

Methods: This study examines the effectiveness of simulation on suicide prevention training for providers-in-training by comparing two conditions: 1) a control group that receives online teaching on suicide prevention in primary care via brief online videos and 2) an experimental group that includes the same online teaching videos plus two standardized patient (SP) interactions (face-to-face and telehealth, presentation randomized). All SP interactions are video-recorded. The primary analysis is a comparison of the two groups’ suicide prevention skills using an SP “test case” at 6-month follow-up.

Discussion: The primary research question examines the impact of practice (through SP simulation) over and above online teaching alone on suicide prevention skills demonstrated at follow-up. We will assess moderators of outcomes, differences among SP simulations (i.e., face-to-face vs. telehealth modalities), and whether the experimental group’s suicide prevention skills improve over the three SP experiences.

Read the full article on BMC Medical Education here.

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