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Clinical decision making regarding suicide risk: Effect of patient and clinician age

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To ascertain how patient age influences suicide risk assessment, clinicians (N = 262) read an ambiguous vignette about Bill (aged either 39 or 79 years old) and subsequently rated Bill’s suicide risk and hospitalization needs. Suicide-risk ratings varied greatly and young clinicians rated Bill’s suicide risk and hospitalization needs higher when he was elderly (79 years old); whereas, older clinicians rated Bill’s suicide risk and need for hospitalization higher when he was younger (39 years old). The interaction between patient and clinician age may reflect a “similarity” bias, such that clinicians perceive those who are different (i.e., younger or older) to be at elevated risk.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 2: Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: May 27, 2016

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