Brief assessment for suicidal ideation in OEF/OIF veterans with positive depression screens

Steven K. Dobscha, Kathryn Corson, Drew A. Helmer, Matthew J. Bair, Lauren M. Denneson, Cynthia Brandt, Anna Beane, Linda Ganzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: We describe processes, rates, and patient and system correlates of brief structured assessments (BSAs) for suicidal ideation among Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans with positive depression screens. Methods: Electronic Veterans Affairs (VA) medical record and Department of Defense data were used to identify individual-level and BSA-process variables for 1662 OEF/OIF veterans at three VA Medical Centers. Results: Overall, 1349/1662 (81%) veterans received BSAs for suicidal ideation within 1 month of depression screening; 94% of BSAs were conducted within 1 day. Stratified analyses revealed significant intersite differences in veteran demographics, instruments used, clinical setting and staff performing assessments, and correlates of assessment completion. At two sites, men were more likely to be assessed than women [odds ratio (OR)=2.15 (95% confidence interval {CI}=1.06-4.38) and 3.14 (CI=1.27-7.76)]. In a combined model adjusted for intrasite correlation, assessment was less likely during months 8-12 and 13-18 of the study period [OR=0.39 (CI=0.28-0.54) and OR=0.48 (95% CI=0.35-0.68), respectively] and more likely to occur among veterans receiving depression or posttraumatic stress disorder diagnoses on the day of depression screening [OR=1.83 (CI=1.36-2.46) and OR=1.50 (CI=1.13-1.98), respectively]. Conclusions: Most veterans with positive depression screens receive timely BSAs for suicidal ideation. Processes used for brief assessment for suicidal ideation vary substantially across VA settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-278
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Depression
  • Screening
  • Suicide
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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