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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)...

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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