If You Want to Know, Consider Asking: How Likely Is It That Patients Will Hurt Themselves in the Future?

Although self-harming behavior is a common and costly problem for psychiatric inpatients released from the hospital, standardized tools that assess patients’ risk for self-harm are rarely used in clinical settings. In this study of dually diagnosed psychiatric inpatients (N=147), we assessed the utility of patients’ self-perceptions of risk in predicting self-harm in the community. Patients’ self-perceptions of risk predicted self-harm 8 weeks after discharge from the hospital (Lag 1; area under the curve [AUC] = 0.75). Self-perceptions of risk at the 8-week interview also predicted self-harm 2 months later (Lag 2; AUC = 0.72). Self-perceived risk added predictive utility above and beyond scores on a measure of depression and seemed to capture changes in risk state over time. The results suggest that inpatients can accurately perceive their own risk and therefore may be important collaborators in the risk management process.