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Prevalence and correlates of personality disorder in Great Britain

  • Jeremy Coid (a1), Min Yang (a1), Peter Tyrer (a2), Amanda Roberts (a3) and Simone Ullrich (a3)...

Epidemiological data on personality disorders, comorbidity and associated use of services are essential for health service policy.


To measure the prevalence and correlates of personality disorder in a representative community sample.


The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis II disorders was used to measure personality disorder in 626 persons aged 16-74 years in households in England, Scotland and Wales, in atwo-phase survey.


The weighted prevalence of personality disorder was 4.4% (95% CI 2.9-6.7). Rates were highest among men, separated and unemployed participants in urban locations. High use of healthcare services was confounded by comorbid mental disorder and substance misuse. Cluster B disorders were associated with early institutional care and criminality.


Personality disorder is common in the community especially in urban areas. Services are normally restricted to symptomatic, help-seeking individuals, but a vulnerable group with cluster B disorders can be identified early are in care during childhood and enter the criminal justice system when young. This suggests the need for preventive interventions at the public mental health level.

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Corresponding author
Professor Jeremy W. Coid, Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit, St Bartholomew's Hospital, William Harvey House, 61 Bartholomew Close, London ECIA 7BE, UK. E-mail:
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Declaration of interest

P. T. is editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry but had no part in the evaluation of this paper for publication.

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Prevalence and correlates of personality disorder in Great Britain

  • Jeremy Coid (a1), Min Yang (a1), Peter Tyrer (a2), Amanda Roberts (a3) and Simone Ullrich (a3)...
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Prevalence of personality disorder

Michael Goepfert, Consultant Psychiatrist
19 May 2006

This article (Coid et al., 2006) was long and eagerly awaited, originally promised as a special report when the initial, complete survey of the National Office of Statistics (Singleton et al., 2001) was published. It has important findings, especially with a distribution of sub-categories of personality disorder in this sample that is at variance with other epidemiological data available to date, possibly because of itsmethodological sophistication. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder has reached a more prominent position as potentially the most prevalent personality disorder.

Unfortunately, the authors have omitted the data on the parental status which is available for the rest of the subjects with other mental disorders in the original publication. This is unfortunate in that there is not a single DSM IV symptom of any personality disorder that is not of potential relevance to a person's parenting capacity.

There is an increasing literature on Parental Personality Disorder (e.g. Adshead et al, 2004) and the findings from this survey are of particular relevance to those interested in parenting, especially if thereis data suggesting that it might be important to know more about cluster Cdisorders and their potential impact on parenting styles. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has been very active in this field in recent years and I would personally find information about people's parental status at least as relevant to know about as their differential rates of legal marital status or housing tenure. It would be even better if this could be linked to other variables such as social status or ethnicity, even if numbers are low. I would be grateful if the authors could make this data available to the readership of the Journal.

Michael Goepfert, Adolescent Forensic Psychiatric Service, Gardener Unit, Prestwich, Bury New Road, Manchester M25 3BL. E-mail;


Adshead, G., Falkov, A., Goepfert, M. (2004) Personality disorder in parents: Developmental perspectives and intervention. In: Parental Psychiatric Disorder (eds. Goepfert, J. Webster, M.V.Seeman), pp. 217-237. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Coid, J., Yang, M., Tyrer, P. and Ullrich, S. (2006) Prevalence and correlates of personality disorder in Great Britain. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 423-431.

Singleton, N., Bumpstead, R., O'Brien, M. et al (2001) Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households. London, Stationary Office.
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