Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 345–353 | Cite as

Does Nonsuicidal Self-injury Prospectively Predict Change in Depression and Self-criticism?

  • Taylor A. BurkeEmail author
  • Kathryn Fox
  • Rachel L. Zelkowitz
  • Diana M. Y. Smith
  • Lauren B. Alloy
  • Jill M. Hooley
  • David A. Cole
Original Article


Few studies have investigated nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) as a predictor of outcomes other than suicidal self-injury, severely limiting our understanding of this behavior’s full range of consequences. Three independent studies were used to examine the prospective association between NSSI and two outcomes: depressive symptoms and self-criticism. Data were collected from samples of (1) adults with past-month NSSI, (2) adults with lifetime NSSI, and (3) adults with past-year NSSI. Studies included 1- and 6-month follow-up periods. Results were tested in an internal meta-analysis. Results suggested that NSSI did not prospectively predict changes in self-criticism. No changes in depressive symptoms were seen over shorter follow-up periods; however, NSSI predicted increases in depressive symptoms at 6-month follow-up in one sample. The internal meta-analysis indicated a null relationship between NSSI and prospective internalizing symptoms. Future research should replicate these findings and examine a broader range of outcomes of NSSI to better understand its complex relationship to psychopathology.


Nonsuicidal self-injury Depression Self-criticism 



This research was supported by a Foundations of Human Behavior award to Jill M. Hooley. Taylor A. Burke was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Kathryn Fox was supported by The Sackler Scholars Programme in Psychobiology. Rachel L. Zelkowitz was supported by National Institute of Mental Health National Research Service Award F31MH108241-02. Lauren B. Alloy was supported by NIMH Grant MH101168. Jill Hooley was supported by a Foundations of Human Behavior grant from Harvard University. David Cole was supported by a gift from the Patricia and Rodes Hart Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Taylor A. Burke, Kathryn Fox, Rachel L. Zelkowitz, Diana M. Y. Smith, Lauren B. Alloy, Jill M. Hooley, and David A. Cole declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taylor A. Burke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kathryn Fox
    • 2
  • Rachel L. Zelkowitz
    • 3
  • Diana M. Y. Smith
    • 2
  • Lauren B. Alloy
    • 1
  • Jill M. Hooley
    • 2
  • David A. Cole
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Weiss HallTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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