TORONTO — More seasoned psychiatrists have a more negative outlook on their suicidal patients compared with their less experienced counterparts, a poster presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting suggests.

Although previous research has studied therapists’ responses to patients who died by suicide, little research has been done in regard to how the length of clinical experience influences clinician outlook on acutely suicidal patients. Anna Frechette, of Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, and colleagues examined the differences in psychiatrists’ emotional responses based on their level of clinical experience.

A ten-item assessment of clinician emotional responses and treatment alliance with patients was administered to 40 first-year resident psychiatrists and 40 fourth-year residents. The survey participants were asked to rank their feelings about statements such as “I am confident in my ability to help him/her,” and “I felt dismissed or devalued.”

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First-year residents reported a more positive experience in their treatment of suicidal patients compared with fourth-year residents, the investigators found, which “may be a function of variation in clinical experience and training, or may be a result of the different amount of time spent as well as the nature of contact with the patient.”

Residents in their first year of practice responses significantly predicted suicidal ideation at two-month follow-up, and “should be researched further in the prediction of suicidal behavior,” according to the scientists.


Frechette A, et al. Impact of clinical experience on psychiatrists’ responses to acutely suicidal inpatients. Poster P6-119. Presented at: APA 2015. May 16-20, 2015; Toronto, Canada.