Motivations for self-injury in an adolescent inpatient population: Development of a self-report measure

Swannell, Sarah, Martin, Graham, Scott, James, Gibbons, Marion and Gifford, Shaune (2008) Motivations for self-injury in an adolescent inpatient population: Development of a self-report measure. Australasian Psychiatry, 16 2: 98-103. doi:10.1080/10398560701636955

Author Swannell, Sarah
Martin, Graham
Scott, James
Gibbons, Marion
Gifford, Shaune
Title Motivations for self-injury in an adolescent inpatient population: Development of a self-report measure
Journal name Australasian Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1039-8562
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/10398560701636955
Volume 16
Issue 2
Start page 98
End page 103
Total pages 6
Editor G. Walter
Place of publication Carlton, Australia
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Language eng
Subject C1
110319 Psychiatry (incl. Psychotherapy)
111714 Mental Health
920209 Mental Health Services
920410 Mental Health
1103 Clinical Sciences
Formatted abstract
Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and pilot an instrument for the assessment of self-injury in adolescent inpatients.

The Self-Injury Motivation Scale was modified for use in adolescents. Thirty-eight consenting adolescent inpatients with a history of self-injury completed the Self-Injury Motivation Scale - Adolescent version (SIMS-A) and the Self-Injury Interview (SII) to collect information about a range of factors associated with self-injury, other clinical variables and demographic details.

Results: The SIMS-A was acceptable to this adolescent sample and motivations for self-injury were similar to those of adults using the original SIMS scale. Adolescents were, however, more likely to use self-injury for communicating to/ influencing others compared to adults. The participants most frequently reported self-injury by hitting, cutting and burning. The clinical diagnosis most frequently associated with self-injury was major depression. Females reported earlier onset, higher frequency and multiple methods of self-injury compared to males. Distraction from emotional pain was the most common motivation for self-injury in both males and females.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests the SIMS-A is a useful self-report measure to assist clinicians and adolescent patients to understand a behaviour that may be associated with shame, guilt or other difficult emotions for the adolescent. Results also support the contention that there are often multiple and conflicting motivations for self-injury. Self-injury in this population was more common and severe in female adolescents compared to males, while clinical depression was a risk factor for self-injury in both males and females. The small sample size of adolescent inpatients is an important limitation of this pilot study, and research using the SIMS-A in larger samples is warranted.
Keyword Adolescents
Emotion regulation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2008 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 13 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 20 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 24 Mar 2009, 20:29:49 EST by Sheila Cleary on behalf of Psychiatry - Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital