Prospective follow-up study of borderline personality disorder: prognosis, prediction of outcome, and Axis II comorbidity

P S Links, R Heslegrave, R van Reekum
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie 1998, 43 (3): 265-70

OBJECTIVE: To examine the rate of persistence of borderline personality disorder (BPD), the existence of concomitant personality disorders on follow-up, and the predictors of outcome in patients who met criteria for BPD compared with patients with borderline features who failed to meet all of the criteria.

METHOD: This prospective cohort study reassessed subjects for BPD diagnosis and cooccurring personality pathology at 7 years follow-up. Initial measures of borderline and comorbid personality psychopathology were used to predict levels of borderline or other personality disorder psychopathology at follow-up.

RESULTS: Of the 57 subjects who initially met the criteria for BPD, 30 (52.6%) were found to have remitted BPD, and 27 (47.4%) were characterized as having persistent BPD. The remitted group met significantly fewer comorbid personality disorder diagnoses than the persistent group (mean = 0.8, mean = 3.5 respectively; P < 0.05). Results also indicated that the initial level of borderline psychopathology was predictive of borderline psychopathology at follow-up, which explained 17% of the variance.

CONCLUSIONS: This prospective follow-up study found that almost 50% of former inpatients with BPD continue to test positive for BPD at 7 years follow-up, and these persistent BPD patients also had significantly more comorbid personality psychopathology. Borderline psychopathology at follow-up was primarily predicted by the level of borderline psychopathology recorded at the initial assessment.

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