Original Research

A review of patients presenting to accident and emergency department with deliberate self-harm, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Josephat O. Ani, Andrew J. Ross, Laura M. Campbell
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 9, No 1 | a1234 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v9i1.1234 | © 2017 Josephat O. Ani, Andrew J. Ross, Laura M. Campbell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2016 | Published: 29 May 2017

About the author(s)

Josephat O. Ani, Department of Family Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Andrew J. Ross, Department of Family Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Laura M. Campbell, Department of Family Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Background: The World Health Organization has described deliberate self-harm (DSH) as a major global health challenge. Little is known about the profile of patients admitted following DSH at district and regional combo hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the profiles of patients and reasons for admission following DSH.
Setting: The study was conducted on data from a busy Accident and Emergency (A&E) department in a combination district and regional hospital situated in Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Method: This was a retrospective descriptive study. Data were collected from charts of all patients admitted to the A&E department from April 2012 to March 2013 following DSH. Variables assessed included age, gender, race, occupation, religion, education level, coexisting medical and mental health conditions, and reasons for DSH. Data were entered into SPSS and analysed descriptively.
Results: A total of 262 charts were identified and 215 (82%) were selected for inclusion. Most patients admitted following DSH were young, single African women with at least secondary-level education. Most (169/215;78%) admissions were for parasuicide, with relational issues contributing in more than 50% of cases and circumstance challenges contributing in just under 30%.
Conclusion: Although an underestimation, DSH is not an uncommon reason for patients to present in the A&E at this district and regional combo hospital. Findings from this study are consistent with those of other studies on DSH and highlight the need for a validated screening tool for the identification of patients at risk of DSH. There is a need to explore community-based intervention, which could address reasons for DSH and prevent future admissions.


Deliberate self-harm; KwaZulu-Natal


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Crossref Citations

1. The profile of deliberate self-poisoning cases presenting at the emergency department of Pelonomi Regional Hospital, Bloemfontein
MOA Benedict, CJ van Loggerenberg, WJ Steinberg
South African Family Practice  vol: 61  issue: 1  first page: 11  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1080/20786190.2018.1527133