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Attitudes towards young people who self-harm: age, an influencing factor

Attitudes towards young people who self-harm: age, an influencing factor

Cleaver, Karen ORCID: 0000-0001-5303-1036, Meerabeau, Liz and Maras, Pam (2014) Attitudes towards young people who self-harm: age, an influencing factor. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70 (12). pp. 2884-2896. ISSN 0309-2402 (Print), 1365-2648 (Online) (doi:

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Aim: To determine the attitudes of emergency care staff towards young people (aged 12–18 years) who self-harm and to gain an understanding of the basis of attitudes that exist.

Background: Young people frequently attend emergency services following self-harm; it is unclear whether being a young person influences attitudes held.

Design: Mixed methods using a triangulation convergent design.

Methods: Survey of 143 staff members from four accident & emergency departments and one ambulance service. Semi-structured interviews with seven children's A&E nurses and five ambulance personnel from the same locality. Data were collected during 2010.

Results/Findings: Pearson's product moment correlation coefficient confirmed a strong positive correlation between scores on the two scales used to measure attitudes; paired samples t-test revealed a statistically significant difference in scores across the scales; practitioners held more positive attitudes towards young people who self-harmed than young people per se. Both data sets confirmed the presence of ambivalence and ambiguity in attitudes held. The qualitative data revealed that because of their age and immaturity young people were not held responsible for their self-harming behaviours. Being young did though influence subsequent admission, with particular difficulty in securing admission for those aged 16–17 reported.

Conclusion: Age is a factor in shaping practitioners' attitudes; age also directs and influences a young person's journey through emergency care, although due to ambiguity there is inconsistency in determining where those aged 16–17 years of age fit.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Cleaver K., Meerabeau L. & Maras P. (2014) Attitudes towards young people who self-harm: age, an influencing factor. Journal of Advanced Nursing 70(12), 2884–2896. doi: 10.1111/jan.12451, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Accident & emergency, Adolescence, Attitudes, Emergency care, nursing, Self-harm, Young people
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Health & Society Research Group
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Health Sciences (HEA)
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2021 21:03

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