Suicidal Ideation Assessment in Individuals with Premanifest and Manifest Huntington Disease

Melissa Wesson, Nicholas R. Boileau, Joel S. Perlmutter, Jane S. Paulsen, Stacey K. Barton, Michael K. McCormack, Noelle E. Carlozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Huntington disease (HD) is associated with increased risk of suicide. Objective: This study compares suicide ideation in HD to the general population, assesses factors associated with increased prevalence of suicidal thoughts, and compares clinician-rated to self-reported assessments of suicidal ideation. Methods: We examined 496 participants with premanifest or manifest HD. Clinician-rated suicidal ideation was measured using the Problem Behaviors Assessment - short form. Self-reported ideation was measured using two items from the HDQLIFE Concern with Death and Dying item bank. Independent sample t-tests were conducted to compare the prevalence of suicidal thoughts between our HD sample and the U.S. population. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine characteristics associated with higher odds of clinically significant suicidal ideation. Kappa agreement coefficients were calculated to evaluate concurrence between clinician-rated and self-reported assessments. Results: Our sample had a significantly higher occurrence of suicidal ideation (19.76%) and suicidal plans (2.1%) than the general population (p < 0.0001). Odds of clinically significant suicidal ideation were 6.8 times higher in females (p = 0.04) on the clinician measure, and Hispanic/Latinos had 10.9 times higher odds than non-Hispanics (p = 0.025) on the self-report measure. Clinician-rated assessment had fair agreement (k = 0.2-0.4) with self-reported assessments, except in early stage HD where there was no overlap in the identification of participants with clinically significant suicidal ideation. Discussion: Assessment for suicidal ideation and clinically significant suicidal thoughts in HD with a multimodal approach that includes clinician-rated and self-report measures is critical at all stages of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Huntington's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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