Objective: Characteristics of older people with and without dementia who are hospitalised following self-harm remains largely unexplored. This research compares the characteristics of older people with and without dementia who self-harm, compares associations of mental health-related diagnoses with those hospitalised for a self-harm and a non-self-harm injury and examines mortality by injury intent. Method: A population-based study of individuals aged 50+years with and without dementia admitted to hospital for a self-harm injury (and those with other injuries) using linked hospital admission and mortality records during 2003-2012 in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Health outcomes, including hospital length of stay (LOS), 28-day readmission and 30-day and 12-month mortality were examined by dementia status. Results: There were 427 hospitalisations of individuals with dementia and 11,684 hospitalisations of individuals without dementia following self-harm. The hospitalisation rate for self-harm for individuals with dementia aged 60+years was double the rate for individuals without dementia (72.2 and 37.5 per 100,000). For both older people with and without dementia, those who self-harmed were more likely to have co-existent mental health and alcohol use disorders than individuals who had a non-self-harm injury. Individuals with dementia had higher 12-month mortality rates, 28-day readmission and longer LOS than individuals without dementia. Conclusion: Dementia is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation for self-harm in older people and worse outcomes. The high rate of coexistent mental health conditions suggests that interventions which reduce behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia might reduce self-harm in people with dementia.
- Older person