Dr. Elizabeth Wharff’s research has focused on prevention of suicide through the development and testing of screening and intervention protocols designed to reduce suicide risk in child/adolescent populations.  Additionally, she has worked to improve the quality of care in emergency mental health by researching pediatric anger management, and emergency room boarding.

Dr. Wharff developed the Family Based Crisis Intervention (FBCI) for suicidal adolescents that has been shown to reduce suicidality and prevent psychiatric hospitalization.  FBCI is a single session intervention performed in the Emergency Department, designed to provide treatment at the time of crisis, instead of relying on psychiatric hospitalization. The intervention’s modules include treatment with both the child/adolescent and the family members in the Emergency Department. Dr. Wharff and her research team have also developed a smartphone application (app), with complementary modalities for the child/adolescent and the caregiver, that is designed to provide rapid access to a personalized set of therapeutic skills for the potentially suicidal adolescent. Dr. Wharff’s team has also worked with several other sites nationally to develop suicide screening tools.  They developed and validated the ASQ (Ask Suicide Questions) screen, a 4-item questionnaire, to screen both medical and psychiatric patients being admitted to the Emergency Department. This screening tool is now being tested in inpatient medical/surgical and outpatient primary care settings.


Dr. Elizabeth Wharff is a Clinician Researcher in Psychiatry.  She is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. Screening Pediatric Medical Patients for Suicide Risk: Is Depression Screening Enough? J Adolesc Health. 2021 Mar 09. View abstract
  2. Parent and Adolescent Thoughts About Suicide Risk Screening in Pediatric Outpatient Settings. Arch Suicide Res. 2020 Dec 28; 1-13. View abstract
  3. Validation of the ask suicide-screening questions (ASQ) with youth in outpatient specialty and primary care clinics. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2021 Jan-Feb; 68:52-58. View abstract
  4. Prevalence of positive suicide risk screens among adolescents with type 1 diabetes (T1D). J Psychosom Res. 2020 11; 138:110247. View abstract
  5. Self-reported Symptoms of Anxiety Predict Positive Suicide Risk Screening in Adolescents Presenting to the Emergency Department. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020 Sep 09. View abstract
  6. Validation and Feasibility of the ASQ Among Pediatric Medical and Surgical Inpatients. Hosp Pediatr. 2020 09; 10(9):750-757. View abstract
  7. The Importance of Screening Preteens for Suicide Risk in the Emergency Department. Hosp Pediatr. 2019 04; 9(4):305-307. View abstract
  8. Family-Based Crisis Intervention With Suicidal Adolescents: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Mar; 35(3):170-175. View abstract
  9. Health Care Resources and Mental Health Service Use Among Suicidal Adolescents. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2017 Apr; 44(2):195-212. View abstract
  10. Bullying and Suicide Risk Among Pediatric Emergency Department Patients. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2016 Jun; 32(6):347-51. View abstract
  11. A Pilot Study of the Acceptability and Usability of a Smartphone Application Intervention for Suicidal Adolescents and Their Parents. Arch Suicide Res. 2017 Apr-Jun; 21(2):254-264. View abstract
  12. To Ask or Not to Ask? Opinions of Pediatric Medical Inpatients about Suicide Risk Screening in the Hospital. J Pediatr. 2016 Mar; 170:295-300. View abstract
  13. Self-Reported Recent Life Stressors and Risk of Suicide in Pediatric Emergency Department Patients. Clin Pediatr Emerg Med. 2013 Mar; 14(1):35-40. View abstract
  14. Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ): a brief instrument for the pediatric emergency department. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012 Dec; 166(12):1170-6. View abstract
  15. Family-based crisis intervention with suicidal adolescents in the emergency room: a pilot study. Soc Work. 2012 Apr; 57(2):133-43. View abstract
  16. Patients' opinions about suicide screening in a pediatric emergency department. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012 Jan; 28(1):34-8. View abstract
  17. Predictors of psychiatric boarding in the pediatric emergency department: implications for emergency care. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2011 Jun; 27(6):483-9. View abstract
  18. Which psychiatric patients board on the medical service? Pediatrics. 2003 Jun; 111(6 Pt 1):e693-8. View abstract
  19. More than a gateway: the role of the emergency psychiatry service in the community mental health network. Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1985 Feb; 36(2):180-5. View abstract