Deliberate self-poisoning, unemployment and public health.
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The purpose of the present investigation was to explore further the known relationship between deliberate self-poisoning and social deprivation. Each individual who attended one of Cork city's three casualty departments following an act of deliberate self-poisoning in 1988 was examined. The place of residence (ward) of each city resident patient was established. The social status of the city's 34 wards was estimated using a number of indices obtained from the 1981 and 1986 census reports and social service records. A comparison was made between the 1988 self-poisoning rate for each ward and the rate found in a 1982 study of the city. Correlations between self-poisoning rate and seven social deprivation indices were found to be significant. Multiple regression, factor, and partial correlation analyses were carried out to examine more closely the interrelationships between the social deprivation indices. With respect to explaining the variation in the self-poisoning rate, unemployment alone performed almost as well as all of the indices together and as well as the factors derived using factor analysis. The correlation between unemployment and self-poisoning rate remained highly significant when the other related variables were controlled for. However, at fixed levels of unemployment, these variables were found to be independent of the self-poisoning rate. It is suggested that whereas clinical intervention may benefit the individual, deliberate self-poisoning as an issue requires a public health approach for its resolution.
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