Projects relating to Self-Harm

Associated projects: completed

A qualitative investigation into the lived experience of psychosocial assessment following self-harm.


Despite the importance of incorporating service user perspectives into healthcare services, little research had investigated how people who self-harm experience psychosocial assessment, a crucial management tool used by hospital clinicians to determine future care. We interviewed people who attended hospital following self-harm at two time-points: 1) as soon as possible after discharge, and 2) three months after assessment. People were interviewed twice to explore how assessment impacted on service users over time. We employed an in-depth qualitative approach (interpretative phenomenological analysis) to analyse the data, as we wanted to focus on the individual service user experience.

Our results showed that people tended to be unaware of what assessment was for, making assumptions based on what staff said or did with them. Assessment could promote or stifle hope, dependent on whether it was experienced as accepting and person-centred, or critical and judgemental. Follow-up care was crucial to maintaining any hope generated during assessment; if follow-up did not occur, people tended to feel hopeless and disengage with care.

This study highlighted the importance of investigating self-harm management from the service user perspective, and suggested that assessment needs to be re-conceptualised as a therapeutic encounter in order to foster hope in people. Additionally, the study emphasised that integrated and timely follow-up care is crucial for maintaining service user engagement with healthcare services.

Duration of the project


Funding body

Medical Research Council/Manchester University

Members of the project

Miss Cheryl HunterPhD student
Dr Jayne CooperSupervisor
Professor Nav KapurSupervisor
Dr Khatidja ChantlerSupervisor


  • Hunter, C., Chantler, K., Kapur, N., & Cooper, J. (2013). Service user perspectives on psychosocial assessment following self-harm and its impact on further help-seeking: A qualitative study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 145(3), 315-323. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.08.009. Publication link: 14024057-93a2-41bf-ae61-28bc04fb34b5 | PubMed:22925352
  • Cooper, J., Hunter, C., Owen-Smith, A., Gunnell, D., Donovan, J., Hawton, K., & Kapur, N. (2011). "Well it's like someone at the other end cares about you." A qualitative study exploring the views of users and providers of care of contact-based interventions following self-harm. General Hospital Psychiatry, 33(2), 166-176. DOI: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2011.01.009. Publication link: 581a550f-39ab-4cc8-b4ff-70497e333996 | PubMed:21596210