Emergency Room Intervention for Adolescent Females

Date: 2007
(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Type:  Program/Practice, Treatment/Services Program, Program with Evidence of Effectiveness
Organization:  Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, Ph.D.

The training manual is free; training & consultation services are available fore a fee. See NREPP Listing for details. 


Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, Ph.D.

(310) 794-8278


Emergency Room Intervention for Adolescent Females is a program for teenage girls 12 to 18 years old who are admitted to the emergency room after attempting suicide. The intervention, which involves the girl and one or more family members who accompany her to the emergency room, aims to increase attendance in outpatient treatment following discharge from the emergency room and to reduce future suicide attempts. A review of the literature suggests that factors related to treatment noncompliance following a suicide attempt include family discord, maternal psychopathology, attempter depression, and negative experiences with emergency room staff. The intervention consists of three components designed to improve the emergency room experience for the adolescent and family, thereby changing the family's conceptualization of the suicidal behavior and expectations about therapy. First, a 2-hour training is conducted separately with each of the six groups of staff working with adolescents who have attempted suicide. Second, the adolescents and their families watch a 20-minute videotape, filmed in Spanish and dubbed in English, that portrays the emergency room experience of two adolescents who have attempted suicide. Last, a bilingual crisis therapist delivers a brief family treatment in the emergency room.

Designation as a "Program with Evidence of Effectiveness"

SPRC designated this intervention as a "program with evidence of effectiveness" based on its inclusion in SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Outcome(s) Reviewed (Overall Quality of Research Rating-scale of 0 to 4)*

1: Treatment adherence (2.1)
2: Adolescent symptoms of depression (3.0)
3: Adolescent suicidal ideation (2.9)
4: Maternal symptoms of depression (2.8)
5: Maternal attitudes toward treatment (2.2)

Read more about this program’s ratings.


* NREPP changed its review criteria in 2015. This program is a “legacy program,” meaning that it was reviewed under the previous criteria. The evidence for each outcome was reviewed and scored on a scale of 0-4, with 4 indicating the highest quality of evidence and 0 indicating very poor quality of evidence. The overall rating was based on ratings of six criteria: 1) reliability of measures, 2) validity of measures, 3) intervention fidelity, 4) missing data and attrition, 5) potential confounding variables, and 6) appropriateness of analysis.  Over time, all legacy programs will be re-reviewed using the current criteria. When considering programs, we recommend (a) assessing whether the specific outcomes achieved by the program are a fit for your needs; and (b) examining the strength of evidence for each outcome. 

Implementation Essentials

  • Prior to training the peer team, crisis management protocols found in the Sources of Strength Start-up Guide should be fully implemented and local adult advisors should be identified and trained.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 8.4: Promote continuity of care and the safety and well-being of all patients treated for suicide risk in emergency departments or hospital inpatient units.
Objective 9.4: Adopt and implement guidelines to effectively engage families and concerned others, when appropriate, throughout entire episodes of care for persons with suicide risk.
Populations:  Adults, Young Adults Ages 18 to 25 Years, Youth, Adolescents, Attempt Survivors and People with Lived Experience
Settings:  Health Care, Emergency Departments, Behavioral Health Care, Outpatient Mental Health
Strategies:  Effective Care/Treatment, Care Transitions/Linkages