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Suicide Prevention Training After Traumatic Brain Injury: Evaluation of a Staff Training Workshop

Simpson, Grahame B. Social Studies, MA (Counselling); Winstanley, Julie B. Science, M. Science, PhD; Bertapelle, Tanya BA (Psychology), Grad Dip (Applied Psychology)

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: September/October 2003 - Volume 18 - Issue 5 - p 445–456

Objectives: To evaluate a suicide prevention training workshop for staff working in the field of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to develop new measures for evaluation of similar training in the future.

Design: A prospective controlled pre- and posttest evaluation with a 6-month follow-up.

Subjects: Multidisciplinary TBI rehabilitation and disability staff from the state of Victoria attending the workshop (n = 50) and an equivalent control group (n = 28) recruited from New South Wales.

Setting: A statewide training workshop was held at a major rehabilitation center in Melbourne.

Outcome measures: Three designed measures including an objective knowledge test, a self-assessment inventory of knowledge/skills and an attitudinal inventory.

Results: Participants recorded statistically significant increases in their scores comparing the pre- to postworkshop evaluations. Many of these gains were maintained at the 6-month follow-up evaluation. In contrast, the control group had scores equivalent to those of workshop participants on the pretest evaluations but recorded no similar increase at follow-up. Factor analysis found that the knowledge and skills self-assessment inventory had 2 factors, each having good internal reliability.

Conclusion: The current workshop has proved effective in increasing staff knowledge and skills in the assessment and management of people with TBI exhibiting suicidal behaviors. Finally, the initial development of a knowledge and skills self-assessment measure shows promise, providing a resource for the ongoing evaluation of suicide prevention training in the TBI field.

From the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia (Simpson, Bertapelle)

Rehabilitation Studies Unit, University of Sydney, and Royal Rehabilitation Centre, Sydney, Australia. (Winstanley)

Thanks to Helen Harrington, Sandy Batten, and other committee members of the Victorian Acquired Brain Injury Workers Forum for organizing the workshop. Thanks to Associate Professor Robyn Tate for her comments.

Corresponding author: Grahame Simpson, B. Social Studies, MA (Counselling), Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital, Locked Bag 7103, Liverpool BC, New South Wales 1871, Australia (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.