Research| Volume 49, ISSUE 2, P266-274, March 2023

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Evidence-Based vs Informal Suicide Training: Nurse Confidence and Comfort With Suicidal Patient Care

Published:January 03, 2023DOI:



      Emergency nurses are on the front line of patient care for suicidal persons, yet many nurses report feeling unprepared to effectively manage suicidal patients owing to a lack of suicide-specific training. The purpose of this study was to examine the suicide-specific training experiences of emergency nurses and evaluate how training relates to burnout, confidence, and comfort working with suicidal patients.


      Emergency nurses at critical access and community hospitals completed an anonymous online survey during work hours. The survey included questions about training experiences, burnout, confidence, and comfort working with suicidal patients, perceptions of the quality and interactive nature of training, and desires for future suicide-specific intervention training.


      Group comparisons among the 117 emergency nurses revealed that those who received evidence-based/expert-delivered training reported greater confidence, comfort, and perceived ability to treat suicidal patients and lower burnout than those who received informal or no training. Those with informal training reported greater confidence and ability to treat suicidal patients, but similar levels of comfort and burnout as those with no training. Mediation analyses showed that training was associated with greater comfort working with suicidal patients through its effect on increased confidence. A majority desired additional suicide-specific training.


      Evidence-based/expert-delivered professional training in suicide intervention is associated with improved confidence, comfort, and perceived ability to care for suicidal patients and lower burnout. Providing evidence-based suicide intervention training may improve quality of care for suicidal patients by improving emergency nurse confidence and comfort for treating these high-risk patients.

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      Jennifer J. Muehlenkamp is a licensed clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI. ORCID identifier:


      Nicholas Grande is an emergency medical technician and was an undergraduate pre-med student at the time this project took place at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI.


      Marcie Talbott is the Director of Nursing for NWWI Emergency Services and Instructor of Nursing for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Eau Claire, WI. She is a member of the Wisconsin ENA chapter.