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There was considerable agreement between 50 psychiatrists in their choices of reasons to explain patients' overdoses after reading transcripts of interviews with self-poisoning patients. The reasons attributed in each case were similar to those chosen by three psychiatrists in an earlier study. Most psychiatrists chose more than one reason for each case. Multidimensional scaling analysis of the psychiatrists' choices across the cases suggested four groups of reasons: (a) directed at some significant person; (b) help-seeking; (c) self-referring; (d) suicidal intent. Future research could include the use of shorter lists of reasons, and should be directed particularly towards assessing the intended and actual effects of self-poisioning behaviour on significant others.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Med Psychol

Publication Date



56 (Pt 2)


197 - 204


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Female, Humans, Judgment, Male, Poisoning, Psychiatry, Suicide, Attempted