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In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0

BACKGROUND : A priority for health services is to reduce self-harm in young people. Predicting self-harm is challenging due to their rarity and complexity, however this does not preclude the utility of prediction models to improve decision-making regarding a service response in terms of more detailed assessments and/or intervention. The aim of this study was to predict self-harm within six-months after initial presentation.

METHOD : The study included 1962 young people (12-30 years) presenting to youth mental health services in Australia. Six machine learning algorithms were trained and tested with ten repeats of ten-fold cross-validation. The net benefit of these models were evaluated using decision curve analysis.

RESULTS : Out of 1962 young people, 320 (16%) engaged in self-harm in the six months after first assessment and 1642 (84%) did not. The top 25% of young people as ranked by mean predicted probability accounted for 51.6% - 56.2% of all who engaged in self-harm. By the top 50%, this increased to 82.1%-84.4%. Models demonstrated fair overall prediction (AUROCs; 0.744-0.755) and calibration which indicates that predicted probabilities were close to the true probabilities (brier scores; 0.185-0.196). The net benefit of these models were positive and superior to the 'treat everyone' strategy. The strongest predictors were (in ranked order); a history of self-harm, age, social and occupational functioning, sex, bipolar disorder, psychosis-like experiences, treatment with antipsychotics, and a history of suicide ideation.

CONCLUSION : Prediction models for self-harm may have utility to identify a large sub population who would benefit from further assessment and targeted (low intensity) interventions. Such models could enhance health service approaches to identify and reduce self-harm, a considerable source of distress, morbidity, ongoing health care utilisation and mortality.

Iorfino Frank, Ho Nicholas, Carpenter Joanne S, Cross Shane P, Davenport Tracey A, Hermens Daniel F, Yee Hannah, Nichles Alissa, Zmicerevska Natalia, Guastella Adam, Scott Elizabeth, Hickie Ian B