Megan Spokas, Ph.D.

Megan Spokas, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2008): $100,000

Mentor: Gregory K. Brown, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Examination of a Relapse Prevention Task in Preventing Future Suicide Attempts

Abstract: Cognitive therapy has proven effective in reducing future suicide attempts but not all patients have a positive response to the standard 10-session treatment. In this study the investigators will examine whether patients who successfully complete a relapse prevention task incorporated into the latter part of the treatment have better outcomes 12-18 months following treatment (lower reattempt rates, less suicidal ideation, depression, hopelessness, and better problem-solving) than patients whose task-completion is inadequate. Previously recorded cognitive therapy sessions with 130 suicide attempters will be examined to assess completion of the relapse prevention task, which involves a series of guided exercises in which the patient imagines responding to past and future crises in adaptive ways rather than with self-harm behaviors. If the expected relationships are demonstrated, the investigators will use these results to modify the cognitive therapy intervention for patients with more and less positive relapse task completion, with the goal of improving long-term outcomes for all patients.