A scoping review of community pharmacists and patients at risk of suicide

Medicines Management Collection
Canadian Pharmacists Journal
Publication date:
05 October 2017


Background: Medications are commonly used in suicide attempts. Pharmacists are inextricably linked to medications and may have roles in helping those at risk of suicide. We conducted a scoping review to characterize the existing literature and make recommendations about future research. Methods: We used a 6-step approach based on an existing scoping review methodological framework, including identifying the research question; identifying relevant studies and other literature; study and literature selection; data charting; collating, summarizing and reporting results; and dissemination of results. We searched electronic databases, various grey literature sources and mobile app stores. Results: Thirty-five articles were included following screening of 1013 database citations. Of 1085 results from grey literature searches, we included 12. Most publications were opinion pieces (n = 22), followed by survey studies (n = 9), primarily assessing pharmacists’ knowledge and attitudes. Themes included education and training to impact knowledge and attitudes, gatekeeping of medication supply, collaboration and integration, and role perception. Public perspectives on pharmacists’ roles were limited. Conclusions: Research regarding pharmacists’ roles in the care of people at risk for suicide is limited. The areas that have dominated the literature include legal liability, especially with respect to gatekeeping medications, ethical decision making and education and training. Research is needed to determine what methods, outcomes and measures are required to best serve in building the evidence base for policy and practice decisions in this area.