Predicting depression outcomes throughout inpatient treatment using the general and specific personality disorder factors

Matthew P. Constantinou, B. Christopher Frueh, J. Christopher Fowler, Jon G. Allen, Alok Madan, John M. Oldham, Peter Fonagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Clinical intuition suggests that personality disorders hinder the treatment of depression, but research findings are mixed. One reason for this might be the way in which current assessment measures conflate general aspects of personality disorders, such as overall severity, with specific aspects, such as stylistic tendencies. The goal of this study was to clarify the unique contributions of the general and specific aspects of personality disorders to depression outcomes. Methods Patients admitted to the Menninger Clinic, Houston, between 2012 and 2015 (N = 2352) were followed over a 6-8-week course of multimodal inpatient treatment. Personality disorder symptoms were assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition Axis II Personality Screening Questionnaire at admission, and depression severity was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 every fortnight. General and specific personality disorder factors estimated with a confirmatory bifactor model were used to predict latent growth curves of depression scores in a structural equation model. Results The general factor predicted higher initial depression scores but not different rates of change. By contrast, the specific borderline factor predicted slower rates of decline in depression scores, while the specific antisocial factor predicted a U shaped pattern of change. Conclusions Personality disorder symptoms are best represented by a general factor that reflects overall personality disorder severity, and specific factors that reflect unique personality styles. The general factor predicts overall depression severity while specific factors predict poorer prognosis which may be masked in prior studies that do not separate the two.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1838-1846
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 8 2022


  • Bifactor
  • comorbidity
  • depression
  • personality disorder
  • treatment outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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