A naturalistic longitudinal study of extended inpatient treatment for adults with borderline personality disorder: An examination of treatment response, remission and deterioration

James Chris Fowler, Joshua D. Clapp, Alok Madan, Jon G. Allen, B. Christopher Frueh, Peter Fonagy, John M. Oldham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Experts express reluctance to hospitalize patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) for more than a few days, arguing that extended inpatient care leads to deterioration and adverse events. To date, there is no empirical support for these assertions. Aims: The current study examined the assumption of iatrogenic effects among BPD adults. Methods: Clinically significant and reliable change in symptoms, functional capacities, and adverse events were quantified for both inpatients with BPD (n = 245) and a well-matched inpatient reference (n = 220) sample. Latent growth curve (LGC) models were used to evaluate moderators of the trajectory of PHQ-9 depression scores over the course of hospitalization. Results: Large effect size improvements were observed in depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and functional disability among patients with BPD (Cohen's d ≥ 1.0) and those in the reference sample (Cohen's d ≥.80). Clinical deterioration and adverse events were rare (occurring in no more than 1.1% of BPD and reference patients on any outcome) with no difference across patient cohorts. BPD diagnosis failed to influence the trajectory of continuous depression severity. Rather, trait emotion dysregulation was associated with initial depression severity. Conclusions: Twenty-five years ago it was assumed that adults with BPD could not benefit from psychiatric treatment. Today there are a number of effective evidence-based outpatient treatments for BPD, but beliefs about extended inpatient treatment have changed little. Current results indicate that extended inpatient treatment can result in significant and clinically meaningful symptomatic and functional improvement in BPD patients without iatrogenic effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume235
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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