Experiential avoidance in non-suicidal self-injury and suicide experiences: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ioannis Angelakis, Patricia Gooding

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    This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to (i) examine the associations between experiential avoidance (EA), non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), and suicide experiences, and (ii) identify sample- and methodological-related variables affecting the strength of these associations.

    Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, Web of Science, and CINAHL were searched until April 2020. Random-effect meta-analyses were applied. The I2 statistic and the Egger's test assessed heterogeneity and publication bias. Meta-regression analyses were used to evaluate the impact of moderator variables on the strength of these associations.

    Data from 19 independent studies based on n = 9900 participants were pooled. The analyses demonstrated a weak but significant association between EA and NSSI. None of the examined moderator variables influenced the strength of this relationship. There was an indication of publication bias, suggesting that this association may have been inflated. The associations between EA, and suicide ideation and behaviors were moderate to strong.

    The current study concluded that (i) the EA model for NSSI should be revised by incorporating new evidence implicating feelings of relief in NSSI, and (ii) future studies should examine interactive factors between EA and key psychological components in the pathways to suicide experiences because these findings have direct clinical implications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number12784
    Pages (from-to)978-992
    Number of pages15
    JournalSuicide and Life Threatening Behavior
    Issue number5
    Early online date29 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


    • experiential avoidance
    • non-suicidal self-injury
    • suicide acts
    • systematic review


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