Program evaluation and decision analytic modelling of universal suicide prevention training (safeTALK) in secondary schools

Irina Kinchin, Alex M.T. Russell, Dennis Petrie, Adrianne Mifsud, Laurence Manning, Christopher M. Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Universal suicide education and awareness training in schools are promising suicide prevention initiatives. This study aims to evaluate a suicide awareness training (safeTALK) and to model potential return on investment (ROI) on a population basis. SafeTALK, comprises a 3-h education session, and has been delivered to secondary school students (aged 15–16 years) in Mackay, located in the Australian state of Queensland. Methods: Evaluation consisted of two phases, ex-post and ex-ante. Phase I was a pre-post, follow-up analysis using a mixed-method questionnaire administered immediately prior (Time 1), immediately after (Time 2), and 4 weeks after training (Time 3). Phase II involved decision analytic modelling comparing safeTALK to the status quo. ROI was modelled using Markov chains for a hypothetical population of students aged 15–19 years in Mackay (n = 2561; suicide rate 78.1 per 100,000), Queensland (n = 296,287; 10.2) and Australia (n = 1,421,595; 8.3). Model parameters, including rates of hospitalised self-harm and suicide, cost implications and effectiveness of safeTALK were drawn from published literature. The baseline model adapted a health and justice system’s perspective, with an alternative model incorporating a societal perspective. All costs were adjusted to reflect AU$2017–2018. Results: Students reported seeking help mostly from friends (79%) or parents (68%); in the last 6 months 61% considered another student’s behaviour as suicidal, but only 21% reported asking about this. The main barriers to help-seeking were (i) being too embarrassed, (ii) shy or (iii) being judged. Students who attended safeTALK gained suicide-related knowledge (p < 0.001), confidence (p < 0.001), willingness (p = 0.006), and likelihood of seeking help (p = 0.044) and retained these up until follow-up assessment 4 weeks later with the exception of seeking help. From a health and justice system’s perspective, the model estimated a cumulative return of AU$1.45 per AU$1 invested in safeTALK in Mackay; AU$0.19 in Queensland; AU$0.15 across Australia. From a societal perspective, ROI increased to AU$31.21, AU$4.05 and AU$3.28, respectively. Conclusion: Results strengthen the premise that safeTALK is feasible to implement within a school setting. The economic case for implementation of safeTALK is promising on a population basis, especially in high-risk communities, but further research is required to confirm the study results.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

Keywords

  • mental health
  • economic evaluation
  • suicide

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