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Mavandadi S, Ingram E, Klaus J, Oslin D. Social Ties and Suicidal Ideation Among Veterans Referred to a Primary Care-Mental Health Integration Program. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2019 Sep 1; 70(9):824-832.
OBJECTIVE: This study examined associations between three indices of social ties (perceived social support, frequency of negative social exchanges, and degree of social integration) and suicidal ideation among veterans referred by their primary care provider for a behavioral health assessment. METHODS: The sample included 15,277 veterans who completed a mental health and substance use assessment on referral to a Primary Care-Mental Health Integration (PCMHI) program. Data on sociodemographic factors, mental health and substance use conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety, and substance use), perceived general health, the three indices of social ties, and suicidal ideation were extracted from clinical interviews. RESULTS: The mean±SD age of the sample was 51.3±15.9, most (89%) were men, and about half (48%) were white. Most met criteria for at least one mental health or substance use condition on PCMHI assessment, and 39% reported either low- or high-severity suicidal ideation, as measured by the Paykel Suicide Scale. Logistic regression analyses indicated that after adjustment for sociodemographic factors, perceived health, and comorbid mental health and substance use conditions, each of the three social tie indices was uniquely associated with higher odds of reporting suicidal ideation, compared with no ideation. CONCLUSIONS: Findings underscore the value of assessing multiple indices of social ties when examining suicidal ideation among high-risk veterans in primary care experiencing behavioral health issues. Incorporating an assessment of the quality of patients'' social interactions and level of social integration into routine PCMHI practice has the potential to enhance screening and intervention efforts aimed at reducing suicidal ideation.