An assessment of suicide-related knowledge and skills among health professionals

Health Psychol. 2014 Feb;33(2):110-9. doi: 10.1037/a0031062. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Objective: The present studies sought to examine the association between gatekeeper training and suicide knowledge among a diverse set of health care workers (case managers, clinicians, administrators, nurses, physicians, support staff). An additional aim of the current studies was to investigate knowledge about suicide among health care workers as well as their confidence in their training and skills.

Method: A naturalistic and uncontrolled group comparison study of two large groups (n = 1,336 and 1,507) of community health workers was conducted by having participants complete a brief online survey that assessed suicide-related knowledge, as well as confidence in training, skills, and support.

Results: In Study 1, participants with Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) outperformed those without ASIST training in terms of their knowledge about suicidal behavior and their confidence in their skills. In Study 2, participants with Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) training outperformed those with Essential Learning's Suicide Prevention (Online) training and those with No Training on suicide knowledge items; both QPR and Online trained workers reported greater confidence in their skills than workers with No Training. Across both studies, physicians and clinicians tended to score the highest on suicide knowledge and skills items.

Conclusions: Overall, health care workers appear to be knowledgeable about suicidal behavior, but there are some specific gaps in their knowledge, such as the rates of suicide in special populations. Participants with ASIST and QPR training demonstrated greater knowledge and skills related to suicidal behavior as compared with participants without gatekeeper training.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / psychology
  • Arizona
  • Clinical Competence
  • Community Health Workers / psychology
  • Community Health Workers / standards
  • Educational Measurement
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires