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01-04-2014 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 4/2014

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 4/2014

A Longitudinal Person-Centered Examination of Nonsuicidal Self-injury Among University Students

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 4/2014
Chloe A. Hamza, Teena Willoughby


Little is known about the development and maintenance of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) over time; however, identifying individuals at risk for NSSI onset or its recurrent engagement is of critical importance for developing effective prevention and intervention strategies. To address this important gap in the literature, we used a person-centered approach to study patterns of change among self-injurers (i.e., new beginners, recovered injurers, relapsers, desisters, and persistent injurers). Undergraduate students (N = 666, 71.1 % female, M age  = 19.15) from a mid-sized Canadian university participated in the two-wave study (assessments were 1 year apart). Participants completed the Inventory of Statements about Self-Injury (ISAS, Klonsky and Glenn in J Psychopathol Behav Assess 31:215–219, 2009) at Time 1, and a measure of past year NSSI frequency 1 year later. Participants also completed several measures of psychosocial risk (e.g., problem behaviors, problems with parents) at both time points. Consistent with Nock’s (Ann Rev Clin Psychol 6:339–363, 2010) model on the development of NSSI over time, individuals who continued to engage in NSSI across the university years (i.e., persistent injurers) reported greater levels of psychosocial risk as compared to those in the other groups. Moreover, a discriminant function analysis revealed that new beginners, relapsed injurers, and persistent injurers were differentiated from recovered injurers and desisters by increases over time in problem behaviors, problems with parents, internalizing behaviors, and suicidal ideation. Our findings provide new insight into the course of NSSI engagement across the university years, and offer clinicians ways to discriminate among individuals with varying longitudinal patterns of NSSI (i.e., on measures of psychosocial risk, and motivations to stop self-injuring).

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