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Multicentre study of self harm in england

A national collaboration to provide a basis for studies of self-harm in England

In England and Wales there are at least 200,000 general hospital presentations for self-harm (intentional self-poisoning or self-injury) per year. Self-harm occurs in relation to a wide range of personal problems, emotional turmoil and psychiatric disorders. It carries a significant risk of subsequent suicide and has major impacts on family members and friends. It also places pressure on busy emergency departments, wards and clinicians, as well as having major financial costs for the NHS.

The aim of this programme of research is to conduct a series of related studies on the epidemiology, causes, clinical management, outcome and prevention of self-harm. Through a multicentre collaboration the research provides representative and reliable data on self-harm in England. It contributes to the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England (2002 and forthcoming) and prevention and service initiative, including NICE guidance on self-harm (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health 2004 and forthcoming).

The research is a collaboration between the University of Oxford (Principal Investigator Professor Keith Hawton), the University of Manchester (Lead, Professor Nav Kapur), and Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (Lead, Mr Keith Waters). Data for the study are collected in these three centres in five general hospitals, one in Oxford, three in Manchester and one in Derby. Over 10 collaborating researchers are part of the research group. The project also has input from service users.

The programme of research includes 4 broad areas:

  • Epidemiology and trends in self-harm.
  • Clinical management of self-harm.
  • Outcome of self-harm, including repetition and mortality.
  • Pharmaco-epidemiology, including drug toxicology and impacts of changes in prescribing legislation and trends.