Changing paramedic students' perception of people who self-harm


Aim: This study aimed to identify whether paramedic students' perceptions of patients who self-harm changed following an educational intervention. Background: Self-harm is a major public health concern with an increasing number of incidents being reported in England. Paramedics are often the first contact for those who self-harm and antipathy to these patients among caregivers, including paramedics, has been reported. Negative attitudes to patients who self-harm from health professionals is a considerable barrier to their care. Education on self-harm for paramedics has been historically inadequate, even though it can potentially improve attitudes and how these practitioners engage with those who self-harm. Method: A pre- and post-survey analysis was undertaken to examine whether any identified unsympathetic perceptions of paramedic students (n=30) towards patients who self-harm would decrease following an educational intervention, using a validated questionnaire measuring attitudes to self-harm. Results: Perceptions of people who self-harm were generally moderately negative prior to the educational intervention, with a significant drop in negative attitudes after it was completed. A survey showed that this drop was also mostly sustained 10 months later. Conclusion: Educational interventions may help to reduce negative perceptions of patients who self-harm in paramedic students.

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