The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) 34th Annual Conference, held online from September 30 to October 4, 2020. The team at the Clinical Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading nurses in psychiatry. Check back for more from APNA 2020.


There is a knowledge gap among nurse practitioners (NPs) around suicide assessment, according to research recently presented at the 2020 meeting of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), held virtually from September 30 to October 4, 2020.

Convenience sampling was employed to identify 10 mental health NPs who practice in rural health facilities in Kentucky, a state in which no required suicide competencies exist. The 13-item Suicide Knowledge and Skills Questionnaire was sent to the NPs to assesses their knowledge about suicidal behavior and their comfort with individuals under their care who may be suicidal. Each question or statement was answered using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “completely disagree” (1) to “completely agree” (5). The Kuder-Richardson Formula 20 was used to calculate the reliability of this scale (0.81) and 95% confidence intervals.

Continue Reading

Assessment of survey responses revealed a significant knowledge gap among mental health NPs around the assessment of suicide. The first item that questioned the number of people who want to kill themselves was answered incorrectly by 40% of the participants. Half of the respondents were unaware of the relative suicide risk in youth vs the elderly. Approximately one-third of respondents were unaware that patients who are suicidal do not wish to die, and more than two-thirds of respondents were unaware of the association between borderline personality disorder and completion of suicide.

The study author concluded that NPs should enroll in mandatory suicide prevention competency programs to gain better assessment skills, and that establishing “suicide risk procedures/competencies is effective at identifying those at risk and reducing completed suicides.”

Visit Clinical Advisor’s meetings section for complete coverage of APNA 2020.


France W. Psychiatric nurse practitioners’ knowledge of suicide prevention. Presented at: APNA 34th Annual Conference; September 30-October 4, 2020. Poster 10.