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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to establish how often pain was a factor contributing to an episode of deliberate self-harm. METHOD: Retrospective case note examination of all deliberate self-harm patients with concurrent medical problems admitted to a general hospital over 2 years. RESULTS: Pain was considered to be a contributory factor in the episode of deliberate self-harm in 75 (4%) of the total number of episodes of deliberate self-harm (1665) over the 2-year period. These patients were older and had higher suicide intent scores, but lower rates of previous psychiatric illness or alcohol or drug misuse than did the deliberate self-harm patients with medical problems but no pain. Although 60% had experienced pain for more than 6 months only, 8 (12%) were attending the local Pain Clinic at the time of the deliberate self-harm. CONCLUSION: We propose closer collaboration between general hospital services and local pain clinics for deliberate self-harm patients with painful disorders. Clinicians need to assess suicidal ideation and risk of self-harm when prescribing for this population.

Original publication




Journal article


J Psychosom Res

Publication Date





317 - 320


Adult, Causality, Chronic Disease, Comorbidity, Cooperative Behavior, Drug Overdose, Female, Hospitals, General, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Pain, Pain Clinics, Psychiatric Department, Hospital, Risk Factors, Self-Injurious Behavior, Statistics as Topic, Suicide, Attempted