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SBRL Talk: Matt Spittal

posted Sep 23, 2019, 2:30 AM by Karen Wetherall   [ updated Sep 23, 2019, 2:39 AM ]

The Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab have the pleasure of hosting Associate Professor Matthew Spittal from the University of Melbourne, who will be talking on 3.30pm on Wednesday 25th September, in Lecture room 2 at Lilybank Gardens (University of Glasgow). 

Identifying patients at high-risk of suicide: the problems and pitfalls of using predictive instruments to make treatment decisions

Tools for assessing suicide risk are widely used in the emergency department and other settings to identify people at high risk of suicide. This classification then often informs treatment decisions, such as whether to admit a person as a psychiatric inpatient. In this talk I (1) describe a program of research that has examined the clinical utility of these risk prediction instruments; (2) explain why these tools don’t work, and why in the era of big data and machine learning, better tools are unlikely to be developed; and (3) offer suggestions for how we can do better.


Matthew Spittal is an Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He is a biostatistician by training. His research program crosses several areas of public health. His main area of research is on the role of individual practitioner performance on patient safety and quality of care. He also studies the epidemiology of suicide and self-harm and is developing a new area of research on traffic safety.