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Revista Virtual de la Sociedad Paraguaya de Medicina Interna

On-line version ISSN 2312-3893


ALFONSO VILLALBA, Jessica María Belén et al. Knowledge and practices of emergency physicians of a University Hospital regarding the care of suicidal patients. Rev. virtual Soc. Parag. Med. Int. [online]. 2021, vol.8, n.1, pp.94-105. ISSN 2312-3893.


The assessment and management of suicide, in the initial contact with a health professional at the emergency department, is an important preventive and curative intervention. The emergency department has been shown to have the potential to identify suicide cases in various settings and to deliver life-saving interventions.


To determine the knowledge and practices of emergency physicians of a University Hospital regarding the care of suicidal patients.


This was an observational, exploratory, pilot, descriptive, cross-sectional study, with non-probabilistic sampling. Physicians working in the emergency department of the Hospital de Clínicas of the National University of Asunción were surveyed, using an adapted version of the instrument developed by Betz et al.


Sixty seven physicians participated in the research, 52.20% was female, aged between 24 and 43 years (mean: 30.5 ± 6.3 years), 33 were interns, 18 were resident physicians, and 16 were specialists. Most participants agreed/strongly agreed that suicides can be prevented. At all levels of training, most participants were unsure whether they had the knowledge to recognize suicidal patients, about their ability to assess the severity of suicide risk, offer counseling, or help patients to create a safety plan.


The majority of emergency physicians are not sure of their knowledge for the care and evaluation of suicidal patients. A continuous training program should be established, including skills for the improvement of knowledge and practices related to the care of patients at risk for suicide. This program could be part of a continuing medical education module, which emergency physicians should complete and pass.

Keywords : suicide; suicide attempt; suicidal ideation; ambulatory care.

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