Scientific article
Publication Date
Published by / Citation
Nugent SM, Anderson J, Young SKBehavioural mental health interventions delivered in the emergency department for suicide, overdose and psychosis: a scoping reviewBMJ Open 2024;14:e080023. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080023
Original Language


emergency care
emergency department

Behavioural mental health interventions delivered in the emergency department for suicide, overdose and psychosis: a scoping review


Objective To identify and describe evidence on brief emergency department (ED)-delivered behavioural and care process interventions among patients presenting with suicide attempt or acute ideation, substance overdose or psychosis.

Design We employed a scoping review design and searched multiple data sources, clinical trial registries and references lists through March 2023. We included English-language trials and rigorously designed observational studies. In alignment with scoping review guidelines, we did not assess the quality of included studies or rate the strength of evidence of intervention effectiveness.

Population Our population of interest was adults presenting to the ED with suicidality (eg, attempt or acute ideation), any substance overdose or acute psychosis from a primary mental health condition.

Intervention We included studies of brief behavioural or care process interventions delivered in the ED.

Outcome measures Health outcomes (eg, symptom reduction), healthcare utilisation and harms.

Results Our search identified 2034 potentially relevant articles. We included 40 studies: 3 systematic reviews and 39 primary studies. Most studies (n=34) examined ED interventions in patients with suicide attempt or suicidal ideation, while eight studies examined interventions in patients with opioid overdose. No studies examined ED interventions in patients with acute psychosis. Most suicide prevention studies reported that brief psychological, psychosocial or screening and triage interventions reduce suicide and suicide attempt following an ED visit. Most clinical trial interventions were multicomponent and included at least one follow-up. All substance overdose studies focused on opioids. These studies often contained medication and referral or consultation components. Multiple studies reported increases in substance use disorder treatment utilisation; evidence on repeat overdose events was limited.

Conclusions A wide range of multicomponent ED-delivered behavioural health interventions for suicidality and opioid use disorder show short-term improvement on primary outcomes such as suicide reattempt. Few studies on non-opioid substances and psychosis are available.

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