Measuring self-harm in adults: A systematic review

R. Borschmann*, J. Hogg, R. Phillips, P. Moran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To identify from the literature, and to critically evaluate, all validated instruments currently available to measure self-harming behaviour in adults. Materials and methods: Medline, Embase, PsycInfo, Health and Psychosocial Instruments and Google scholar were searched, grey literature was sought and the reference lists of relevant articles were checked to identify instruments. Results: A total of seven validated instruments which met our inclusion criteria were identified and data were extracted regarding each instrument's format, administration method, psychometric properties and number of items and domains included. Considerable variation was observed in the overall quality of these instruments. Fourteen other instruments were identified which did not describe their psychometric properties or had not been published and were subsequently excluded from our review. Discussion: Although many instruments were identified in our search, only a small number had been validated with published psychometric properties. Of the identified instruments, the Suicide Attempt Self-Injury Interview (SASII) appears to be the most robust and comprehensive instrument currently available. Despite the absence of psychometric data, numerous other instruments have been used in published studies, including clinical trials. Conclusion: Our results highlight the pressing need for a standardized, empirically validated and versatile measure of intentional self-harming behaviour for use in both clinical and research settings. The optimum characteristics of such an instrument are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Epidemiology
  • Instrument
  • Measurement
  • Self-harm
  • Systematic review


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