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Borderline personality disorder: health service use and social functioning among a national household population

  • J. Coid (a1), M. Yang (a1), P. Bebbington (a2), P. Moran (a3), T. Brugha (a4), R. Jenkins (a5), M. Farrell (a5), N. Singleton (a6) and S. Ullrich (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 02 March 2009

It is unclear whether Axis II psychopathology or co-morbid clinical syndromes result in the treatment-seeking behaviour and social impairment of patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This study examined the independent associations between social functioning and service use and Axis I and Axis II disorders in persons with BPD in the national household population of Britain.


The study was a cross-sectional survey of adults aged 16–74 years in households (n=8397). Data included self-reported consultations with health-care professionals and behavioural problems. Diagnosis was determined by computer-assisted interviews. Analyses included logistic regression adjusting for demography, co-morbid Axis I clinical syndromes and other Axis II disorders.


Consultation in the past year was reported by 57.5% of persons with BPD but only 13.4% reported lifetime psychiatric admission. BPD was not independently associated with impaired functioning but was associated with co-morbid psychotic, depressive and anxiety disorders. Only general practitioners (GPs) were consulted for problems independently due to BPD.


Functional effects of BPD are mediated through co-morbid clinical syndromes, not Axis II psychopathology. A subgroup do not have co-morbid disorders or seek treatment, and are high functioning.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Professor J. Coid, Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit, St Bartholomew's Hospital, William Harvey House, 61 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7BE, UK. (Email:
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