Girls who present to emergency departments (EDs) in Wales with self-harm are significantly more likely to be admitted to hospital than boys, according to the first study of its kind published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The study used individual-level linked data across general practice, EDs, outpatients and hospital admissions to examine contacts across settings and time by sex for self-harm in individuals aged 10-24 years.
A total of 937,697 individuals aged 10-24 years contributed 5,369,794 person-years of data from 1 January 2003 to 30 September 2015.
The data showed that self-harm incidence was highest in primary care patients but remained stable over time (incident rate ratio [IRR], 1.0; 95% CI, 0.9-1.1). Incidence of ED attendance increased over time (IRR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.5) as did hospital admissions (IRR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.6).
Incidence was highest in the 15-19 years age group across all settings. The largest increases were seen in the youngest age group.
There were increases in ED attendances for both sexes; however, females are more likely than males to be admitted following ED presentation. This was most evident in individuals aged 10-15 years, where 76 per cent of females were admitted compared with just 49 per cent of males.
Commenting on the findings, the authors said: “The high rates of self-harm in primary care and for young men in EDs highlight these as important settings for intervention.”