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Attitudes towards attempted suicide: the development of a measurement tool

Ouzouni Christina

Background: Nowadays reported global suicide attempt rates have increased dramatically and there is some evidence that failure by health care professionals to recognize and respond to the needs of a suicidal person may be a factor in the repeated suicide attempts of some people. Moreover, research evidence has indicated that unfavorable attitudes among doctors and nurses exist towards attempted suicide patients, which have a negative impact upon the quality of care they receive. The aim of the study was to develop, pilot and validate a measure of attitudes towards patients who have attempted suicide. Method and Material: A questionnaire comprising 102 items was constructed from a existing validated instrument in combination with findings from a literature review. A pilot study was carried out with a sample of 40 (n=40) doctors and nurses, to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the instrument developed. Questionnaires were then distributed to a sample of 186 (n=186) doctors and nurses, working in two general hospitals in Athens area. In order to establish the scale’s construct validity a factor analysis was performed. In addition, a face validity of the measurement tool was assessed by a group of experts. Reliability of the questionnaire was assesses by test - retest. Results: Preliminary analysis reduced the 102 items of the questionnaire to 80. The following eight factors were retained: “positiveness”, “acceptability”, “religiosity”, “professional role and care”, “manipulation”, “personality traits”, “mental illness”, “discrimination”. The 8 factors yielded accounted for the 55.45% level of the total variance. The resultant “Attitudes Towards Attempted Suicide-Questionnaire (ATAS-Q) achieved high internal consistency, with Cronbach’s alpha of 0.96 (a=0.96) in test and a=0.97 in retest assessment. Conclusions: The construction, development and validation of the ATAS-Q will provide a useful measurement tool, enabling health care professionals to enhance their understanding of their attitudes towards patients who attempt suicide in order to enhance the provision of effective care to them.