Substance use and self-harm : a cross-sectional study of the prevalence, correlates and patterns of medical service utilisation among patients admitted to a South African hospital

Breet, Elsie ; Bantjes, Jason ; Lewis, Ian (2018-03-06)

CITATION: Breet, E., Bantjes, J. & Lewis, I. 2018. Substance use and self-harm : a cross-sectional study of the prevalence, correlates and patterns of medical service utilisation among patients admitted to a South African hospital. BMC Health Services Research, 18:157, doi:10.1186/s12913-018-2963-7.

The original publication is available at https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com

Article

Background: Substance use is a potentially modifiable risk factor for suicidal behaviour. Little is known about the epidemiology of substance use among self-harm patients in South Africa. This study set out to collect epidemiological data about the prevalence, correlates, and patterns of medical service utilisation among self-harm patients who used substances at the time of self-injury. Methods: Data from 238 consecutive self-harm patients treated at an urban hospital in South Africa were analysed using bivariate and multivariate statistics. Results Approximately 20% of patients reported substance use at the time of self-harm. When compared to other self-harm patients, higher rates of patients who had used substances: had depressed levels of consciousness on admission; utilised more medical resources and required longer hospital admissions; cited relationship difficulties and financial concerns as reasons for their self-harm; reported a previous episode of self-harm; and intended to die as a result of their injuries. Although the observed differences were not statistically significant (p > 0.05), the proportional differences were congruent with international literature. Conclusion: Acute use of substances among self-harm patients warrants more focused research and clinical attention particularly in the context of reducing utilisation of scarce medical resources.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103219
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